Homelessness a hidden issue in Wellington

More than 500 people sought help from Uniting to find housing last year in Wellington Shire.
More than 500 people sought help from Uniting to find housing last year in Wellington Shire.

UNITING is drawing attention to the issue of affordable housing and homelessness in Gippsland as part of Homelessness Week this week.

Uniting Gippsland executive officer Di Fisher said homelessness was a bigger issue than people realised, with more than 500 people seeking help from Uniting to find housing last year in Wellington Shire alone.

"Just because people don't see it, doesn't mean it doesn't exist," Ms Fisher said.

As part of Homelessness Week, which began yesterday and will continue until Saturday, Uniting is joining forces with organisations across the country to raise awareness of people at risk of or currently experiencing homelessness, to call for a better future.

"Locally we have a photographic display next to our opportunity shop at 407 Raymond St, Sale," Ms Fisher said.

"These are photographs taken by people who have experienced homelessness in Gippsland.

"The photographs tell their stories about the practicalities of life when they had nowhere to go, and they powerfully convey how they felt," she said.

"There is also an online component.

"Each day of Homelessness Week we will be posting these images to our Facebook page.

"On Wednesday we will have a clip that tells the story of those that have previously participated in our Homelessness Week activities."

Uniting Vic.Tas chief executive Bronwyn Pike said affordable, safe and secure housing was an essential human right.

She encouraged people to take part in the 'Everybody's Home' campaign.

"On any given night, more than 120,000 people around Australia are homeless," Ms Pike said.

"People who come to us for support consistently tell us that a lack of affordable housing directly affects their ability to better their circumstances and look forward to a positive future.

"There is strong evidence from around the world that focusing on providing safe, secure and permanent housing for people in crisis works, so it has to be our priority," she said.

"Housing is a key factor in helping get a person's life on track and once it's secured, other complex needs can be addressed such as employment, mental health or alcohol and drug problems.

"Coronavirus and last summer's bushfires again demonstrated the importance having a home is to health, wellbeing and a sense of security, and that's why we need more investment in social housing."

More information about Homelessness Week will be posted to the Uniting Gippsland Facebook page.

People can show support by signing the Everybody's Home petition.

People can visit everybodyshome.com.au or join the conversion on social media #HW2020

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