SAUSAGE sizzles and a “community walk” are planned to raise money and highlight the plight of an estimated 1000 people on the Mornington Peninsula who each night struggle to find somewhere to sleep.
Mornington Peninsula Shire mayor Cr Steve Holland said there had been no response to pleas for more state government help from the council and the municipality’s three community support centres.
Nothing has changed since outlining the problem to the Premier Daniel Andrews last October, but the shire will continue its lobbying for more government help as part of this year’s Homelessness Week (7-13 August).
“The continued lack of funding and support from the state government for homelessness is incredibly disappointing. It is a growing issue fuelled by Australia’s housing affordability crisis and the Peninsula’s comparatively small rental market,” Holland told The News last weekend.
“Even though housing is the state government’s responsibility, our crisis and community support centres receive significantly more funding from the council than the state – it’s not good enough and our community deserves better.”
On World Homeless Day last October Holland wrote to Andrews “to express our disappointment and dismay at the continued lack of funding and support … to address the tragic housing and homelessness crisis on the Mornington Peninsula”.
“We are in desperate need of immediate funding. We require $100 million from the Victorian government’s $5.3 billion Big Housing Build to begin addressing this crisis, yet we’ve received just 0.1 per cent despite having one of the highest levels of housing stress in Victoria.”
Cr David Gill said the shire was supporting the Victorian Homelessness Network Houses at Parliament Campaign to raise awareness of the need for more social and public housing.
“There are nearly 4000 homes needed on the peninsula alone to meet community need,” he said.
“About 1000 people on the peninsula are homeless, according to figures collected for local not-for-profit organisations by their case workers. They’re living in their cars, staying somewhere temporary like a friend’s couch, in a shelter or refuge or have nowhere to go at all.
“In a country as wealthy as Australia, no-one should be without a home.”
Gill said it was “a credit to the council” that it made annual grants to the shire three community support centres – Mornington, Western Port and Southern Peninsula – “but also highlights a massive funding issue and cost shift that the council feels morally compelled to take action about given the abrogation of responsibility by the state government for the peninsula’s least well off”.
The shire has been increasing annual grants to the three support centre from $24,000 in 2001 to $235,764 in its 2023/24 budget.
“I’m not aware of any other council that provides this level of recurrent funding to community support centres, but it is a result of a lack of support from other levels of government, and the increasing need for crisis support in our community,” Gill said.
This year’s Homelessness Week will be launched in Canberra on Monday 7 August. Run by Homelessness Australia, the week has the theme It’s time to end homelessness with a focus on “ending First Nations homelessness”.
On the Mornington Peninsula community groups, clubs and organisations are being urged to hold sausage sizzles (see page xx) and community support centres and Fusion will be leading a community walk at Rosebud on Friday 11 August.
First published in the Mornington News – 25th July 2023