Where does the responsibility sit when it comes to assisting people in your community who are 'doing it tough'? Is it Government, private industry / business, grass roots community organisations, church / faith based groups, or you?
I would argue they are all one and the same....but
if you are tired of people reaching out to you, asking for support in their fundraising efforts, VOTE for political leaders who are committed to adequately funding educational, health / medical and social infrastructure.
In the meantime, write to all the Local, State and Federal politicians you can to let them know what you want them to achieve - write to the editor of your local paper (go on, you can do it!) - post it on your socials and paste it up in your spaces - agitate and advocate for those who need your support. Don't assume that those who are in dire need of services have the energy, resources or time to fight the long battle; but do it with them, knowing what it is to be a good ally. SHOUT if you have to - just make sure you're heard.
How do organisations that assist people experiencing homelessness find funds?
Like all community focused organisations they rely on grants, government funding and donations.
So, what is the Federal Government doing?
Most Federal Government funding for the homelessness sector is provided through the States and Territories under two agreements:
The National Affordable Housing Agreement (NAHA); and
The National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness (NPAH)
Both the NAHA and the NPAH are in place to achieve sustainable housing and social inclusion for people who are experiencing homelessness, or at risk of homelessness. However, the two agreements' structure and purposes are quite different.
There are around 1,300 organisations around Australia funded under these two agreements.
The Federal Government is currently undertaking a Reform of the Federation process. This will address the responsibilities for Federal and State/Territory Governments in relation to a number of issues, including homelessness and housing. Early indications show that the government is likely to completely withdraw from homelessness funding (and a large percentage of housing), leaving the States/Territories and charities to foot the bill.
And, what are the State/Territory Governments doing?
The Commonwealth Government provides the State and Territory governments with funding (under the NAHA and NPAH). The States and Territories manage this funding. State and Territory governments can also use their own funds. The NPAH requires joint funding from the States/Territories, whereas the NAHA does not. Links here.
BUT, but, but - The South Australian Government just announced some changes to the funding agreements here in SA:
Read here, here, here, here or here!
I've more to say ...
What you''ll note here is that the State Government funding level has stayed the same but funds will be distributed differently, heavily used organisations will suffer - AND statistics / data across Australia indicate that:
'homelessness could surge by 9% in 2021, with almost a quarter more Australian families to experience housing stress.' Link here.
You'll also note that there is a risk to the Federal Government funding...
...what do these not-for-profits actually do?
Not-for-profits play a very important role in helping people who are experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness.
There are a large number of charities and not for profits which do a number of things for people who are experiencing homelessness including:
collection of resources (food, clothing etc)
social support / connection
skills and employment services
connection to employment and educational opportunities
access to laundry, washing and storage facilities
Y'all already know this but...why are people homeless in Australia?
Homelessness is often the result of a number of complex issues;
Lack of income
Lack of affordable housing and available rental housing
Cost of living pressures
Lack of superannuation in retirement
Young people exiting from the care system
Discharge system for people exiting prison
Discharge system for people exiting hospital
Discharge system for people exiting drug and alcohol treatment
Domestic and family violence
Physical health and disability
What happens when the Government cuts funds?
Vulnerable people suffer, organisations and service providers pivot and change as needed, grass-roots organisations and church / faith based volunteer groups fill the gaps - and YOU are asked more directly for a contribution.
so...what can YOU do?
Educate and advocate - help dispel the stereotype of a 'homeless person.' Learn about the reasons for homelessness - every situation is unique.
Respect - remember that people who are experiencing homelessness are people too. Give them the same respect and courtesy you would your family and friends.
Donate - you can donate a lot of things - money, toys, clothing or food.
Volunteer - you can volunteer not only your time but your skills and expertise.
Vote - Agitate - Advocate !!
And... you can give directly to, interact with, agitate with and support those people you see doing it tough in your local spaces and places ..with love in your heart, kindness in your eyes and compassion in mind...because every little bit MATTERS.