By Melita Knight
People have four basic needs: food, water, clothing, and
shelter. Unfortunately for 105 000 Australians, these necessities
There are just over 400 people in Ballarat who are homeless,
this is 47 in 10 000 people homeless compared to the state average
of 42 per 10 000.
Homelessness is not simply living without a home. It is living
without safety, and security. Rough sleepers, couch surfers (people
staying temporarily with friends), and people staying in emergency
shelter are all regarded as homeless.
Homeless youth from rural towns and cities tend to stay in their
area rather than going to larger, more urban areas to seek help.
Therefore it is even more important to try to help and reduce the
amount of homeless in Ballarat.
Services like the Uniting Care, Centacare and Peplow House
provide people with short-term accommodation, and the Soup Bus
provide a small meal after-dark to those who cannot afford it. But
if we really want to help get people off the streets, we need to do
There are many buildings around Ballarat which are simply
sitting there collecting dust. If the council were to purchase one
of these buildings and convert it into a housing and educating
facility for the homeless, then it would go a long way to solving
Ballarat's homeless problem.
The old civic hall is one such building which the Ballarat
Council already owns and are planning to redevelop anyway. If they
redeveloped the old civic hall for homelessness purposes it would
solve more than one problem.
A centre for the homeless could not only provide shelter for
those who have none, but it could provide educational services to
help homeless people get back on their feet. According to the
Australian Bureau of Statistics, only 51 per cent of homeless youth
in Victoria stay within the school system. This is a
worryingly low percent, and one we can change if we give them the
chance to learn and study even if they can't afford it.
By combining a homeless shelter with an education facility, the
community would also be able to provide homeless and disadvantaged
people with skills and knowledge to help turn their lives around.
Cooking skills, business skills, social skills, and life skills,
could all be taught in workshops throughout the week. The facility
could also house a psychiatrist or therapist to help people deal
with abuse-physical, emotional, drug and alcohol-which is one of
the leading causes of homelessness.
Everyone has the right to feel safe, secure, and to have access
to basic human needs. When there are people who do not have these,
not always through fault of themselves, the council and the
community has the responsibility to help provide these.
If we were to create a combined homeless shelter and education
facility, then we will not only provide the citizens of Ballarat
with more jobs and better access to education, but we can help to
end the homeless problem.