In the 2006 Census, 326 people in Mount Isa were recorded as homeless. Yet this year alone, local organisation Centacare North Queensland has supported 834 individuals through three homelessness programs, including 429 children.
The organisation works intensively with families and individuals in Mount Isa, to assist those facing homelessness maintain stable and suitable accommodation.
Centacare NQ’s Homelessness services manager, Irena Paznikov, said changing the public’s perception is an important step towards raising awareness.
“Homelessness is not just people living or sleeping in the river bed; there are people couch surfing, living in overcrowding situations, in emergency/crisis accommodation, diversionary centres and recovery centres.
“People who are homeless are also those who have moved here from the Territory for family or cultural reasons, those affected from the down turn in the mines, and then those who have family history of homelessness.”
During the 2015/2016 financial year, Centacare’s homelessness programs have seen encouraging and positive outcomes.
“We have seen an 18 per cent increase in clients exiting and sustaining long term housing, and an 8 per cent decrease in clients presenting to the service experiencing chronic homelessness,” Ms Paznikov said.
The organisation’s Crisis Supported Accommodation program works with families and individuals in a flexible and individualised way, to meet specific housing and family needs. Families will be linked with case managers, who can work to achieve housing and accommodation, personal support and advocacy, practical assistance in developing living and budgeting skills, and family and child support.
The HomeStay Support Service is an early intervention program that assists those who might be at risk of homelessness, with ongoing support being provided to ensure a safe and stable home life. The program is delivered in clients’ homes and is soon to be delivered through a program called Happy, Healthy Homes. This new program will be delivered at a number of locations - Brilla Brilla at Yallambee with tenants or people staying there, at the Mount Isa Recovery Centre with the people going through their program, and at the Jimaylya Topsy Harry Centre.
Ms Paznikov said an advantage of working with people staying at these locations is that they already have a connection to work in a group setting, which leads to more open and honest conversations. The groups will start running the week of the August 15 for 13 weeks.
Centacare NQ also runs a Reconnect program, which helps people between ages 12 and 18 who are homeless, or at risk of homelessness, and want to be more involved in their education, employment and the community.
No referrals are required to access these support services; however referrals may be provided through the Department of Housing and Public Works, Jimaylya Topsy Harry Centre, Child Safety, Nawamba House, ATODS, and schools, to name a few.
If you or someone you know is experiencing homelessness in Mount Isa, call Centacare North Queensland on 4749 8100.