What is homelessness?
Homelessness is where a person doesn't have suitable accommodation which meets basic needs.
That includes a sense of security, stability, privacy, safety and the ability to control living space.
Is homelessness an issue in Lake Macquarie?
Council receives increasing enquiries from our residents concerned about the welfare of others and reporting rough sleepers. It is challenging to have accurate statistics in the area of homelessness, though all available research demonstrates there is a rise in people experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness in Lake Macquarie.
Who are the most vulnerable to homelessness in our community?
According to 2016 ABS Census data, the number of persons experiencing homelessness in Lake Macquarie was 405 people. The largest increases of homelessness have been seen in young people and those over the age of 55.
Across NSW and Australia, homelessness is increasing. The percentage of homelessness statistics made up of persons sleeping rough is on average 7% across the state. The definition of homelessness in a contemporary context has extended from rough sleeping to include persons in unstable or temporary accommodation.
Those in temporary accommodation make up the largest percentage of the rate of homelessness. This may be persons living temporarily with family or friends such as ‘couch surfing’, living in severely overcrowded dwellings or in improvised structures.
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Census of Population and Housing: Estimating homelessness, 2016.
Is homelessness a local government issue?
Council is committed to affecting positive change in the area of homelessness. Demonstrated through signing the Hunter Ending Homelessness Pledge and adopting the Homelessness Policy Commitment. The new Homelessness Plan will be a more comprehensive strategy which documents the way staff will deliver the objectives of our commitments. We will join the growing numbers of local government areas in Australia have already implement a Homelessness Plan. Council can have reasonable influence in the area of homelessness, coordinate a regional approach, advocate on behalf of its community and ensure a collaborative approach between Government bodies and local community organisations.
The NSW State Government are a key stakeholder in the development and implementation of the Homelessness plan due to their primary role in responding to homelessness across NSW. Council are committed to working collaboratively with local community groups and the State Government to ensure we are aiming for best practice and doing all we can to meet the basic needs of our community.
What does Council already do?
For many years Council has provided support to community organisations which include homelessness service providers, and we continue to advocate for increased social and affordable housing in Lake Macquarie. Council staff support the work of our homelessness providers by contributing to their initiatives such as Hunter Homeless Connect Day. We also undertake initiatives which aim to mitigate contributing factors of homelessness such as working with local Women’s refuges in the area of domestic violence, and running donation drives for basic necessity items.
The new Homelessness Plan will allow us to demonstrate and report against our actions in a cohesive manner to our community.
Will Council speak to stakeholders?
Council will speak directly to key stakeholders such as Specialist Homelessness Services, and local charities who are on the frontline of homelessness support. We will hold stakeholder specific workshops to hear directly from those working in the field. We would also like to speak with persons who have lived experience of homelessness and ensure these voices are included. If you would like us to contact you or a service in particular, we appreciate the feedback so please get in touch and we will follow-up.
How can I help?
If you would like to volunteer or donate to support homelessness services, please email Council and Council staff will respond with local options available. The situation for homelessness support services can change rapidly and Council staff will adapt a response to suit your enquiry and location.
I require housing and homelessness support, who can I contact?
We have a range of referral options we can connect you with. Please email or phone Council, and Council staff will connect with you one on one to refer you to social support services in Lake Macquarie specific to your circumstances.