News

Locals forced to live in tents, vans

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April 03, 2018

ROCHESTER is not immune to the homeless crisis sweeping the nation.

ROCHESTER is not immune to the homeless crisis sweeping the nation.

Support services in the town have confirmed more help is needed to tackle the issue and assist locals sleeping rough.

Domestic violence, family breakdown and housing affordability are contributing factors in alarming new figures that show homelessness has more than doubled across Campaspe Shire in five years.

New data from the 2016 Census of Population and Housing has revealed there were 121 homeless people in the shire, compared to 49 people in 2011.

Unfortunately, this news does not surprise our homelessness services.

‘‘We don’t get a lot of requests for assistance but we do know homelessness is an issue in Rochester and district,” Rochester Salvation Army lieutenant Ben Clapton said.

“There are a couple of families we know are living in tents. Living in tents and caravans is the major source of homelessness in the area.

‘‘While it is a place to sleep, it’s far from ideal.”

Mr Clapton said there were not enough support services available to people in the area.

“People affected by homelessness are generally not able to travel to Bendigo and Shepparton for support services,” he said.

“We only operate a few hours per week and can only do so much to support people.

“More services would be much appreciated and go a long way to alleviating the problem.”

Of the 121 people experiencing homelessness, most (36) were living in ‘severely’ crowded dwellings, defined as requiring four or more extra bedrooms to accommodate the people who usually live there, while 27 were staying with others.

On Census night, three were sleeping rough — in tents or sleeping out, 24 were in supported accommodation for the homeless and 22 were in boarding houses.

Anglicare regional director Francis Lynch said its homeless services had noticed a concerning increase in people seeking support.

‘‘Some of the people who seek our services are forced to sleep in their cars or camp,’’ he said.

‘‘Many of the people who we help experience issues with housing affordability, with rents being at an all-time high, family violence and family breakdown.’’

Across Australia, the rate of homelessness has increased 4.6 per cent.

People living in ‘severely’ crowded dwellings was the greatest contributor to the national increase in homelessness, accounting for 51,088 people.

Younger and older Australians have also emerged as groups experiencing increasing homelessness in Australia.

‘‘One quarter of all people experiencing homelessness in 2016 was aged between 20 and 30 years,’’ ABS Population and Social Statistics general manager Paul Jelfs said.

People aged between 65 and 74 years experiencing homelessness increased to 27 persons per 10,000 people, up from 25 persons per 10,000 people in 2011.

Recent migrants (who arrived within the five years before the 2016 Census) accounted for 15 per cent of the homeless estimate.

The overall number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experiencing homelessness in 2016 was 23,437.

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