Combating Homelessness | Marathon Health
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Health and wellbeing Posted: 04 August 2023

Combating homelessness

This year’s National Homelessness Week theme is “Its time to end homelessness” and is designed to raise awareness of the impact of homelessness and the solutions needed to end it.

In the late 2022 floods, more than 100 people registered at the city’s evacuation centre, most from the suburb of North Wagga Wagga. The first night, when the natural disaster hit, more than 700 residents spent the night out of their homes.

But what happens when the mandatory timeframes of ‘rebuilding’ are over and people are still being evicted and fined for staying in campgrounds on the towns edge? It means that people experiencing homelessness are being forced out, with no accommodation and nowhere to turn.

Introducing Together Home – a Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) program delivered in partnership with Argyle Housing and Marathon Health, to help with the social and emotional wellbeing of people experiencing homelessness in the Murrumbidgee region. The team support people that have experienced street or rough sleeping, help them into secure housing and work with them to achieve their goals.

Ash Credlin, Team Lead, and Sally White, Intensive Case Worker, in the Together Home program – were both affected by the floods and still work each day to ensure Together Home participants (current and future) can access safe accommodation.

“In Australia there are over 122,000 people experiencing homelessness on any given night and it’s our job to make sure our clients receive the best support and feel safe,” Sally said.

The program takes a holistic and integrated approach to care – looking at the bigger picture of homelessness and wellbeing. One client Sally worked with, overcame a physical barrier to wellbeing recently, after spine surgery.

“He’s had a broken spine since he was a child, with a misdiagnosis at birth this client has been living in pain his whole life. Additional funding meant that for his 50th birthday this year, he could walk pain free,” Sally said.

Sally and Ash also flew to Melbourne to support a client with a brain assessment so they could access a Disability Support Pension (DSP). The client had been assaulted numerous times as a child and is often in and out of jail.

“This person has literacy and numeracy barriers so they couldn’t access a Disability Support Pension (DSP) for some time – they just needed someone to help. People just need someone that cares, are open minded and don’t judge. My team does that exceptionally well – they are empathic, problem solvers and advocate for their clients.

They do a damn good job at it,” Ash said.

Together Home is a two-year long intensive case management program which means case workers can build strong relationships with their clients. The team has grown since the floods and have welcomed two new team members – Rachel McPhail, Intensive Case Worker, and Hannah Cartwright, Social Work Student, who are excited to help people achieve their goals.

“It takes time to break down barriers, so I am patient with my clients and just want to see them succeed,” Sally said.

“What I find most rewarding about my role is that I am making an impact and helping people,” Ash said.

The water damage dried out within weeks, the 9.2 metre flood water subsided and the initial clean-up was completed days after the devastation.

For 19% of the Australian people, an extreme weather event was a factor in their pathway to homelessness and it’s important to remember that after a disastrous event the rural community that is left behind – stranded. It’s also important to remember that no matter your circumstance that help and resources are always available.

This year’s National Homelessness Week theme is “Its time to end homelessness” and is designed to raise awareness of the impact of homelessness and the solutions needed to end it.

Page last updated: 17 November 2023

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