The Northern Rivers may be the holiday destination of choice for Christmas but for the thousands of people experiencing homelessness it is a region crying out for action.
Speaking about our current Housing Campaign, Social Futures chief executive Tony Davies says voters have the power to influence change and with the New South Wales state election in March, now is the time to act.
“The housing crisis on the Northern Rivers has really become a key issue for voters, and this region has a history of lifting its voice to campaign for important change. The Northern Rivers people have big hearts and they will vote accordingly,” said Mr Davies.
The festive season isn’t so merry for many, according to North Coast Community Housing chief executive John McKenna who says anyone can find themselves homeless in the current housing crisis and this is the most challenging time of year for those without a home.
“The housing situation in our region is at crisis point.” Mr McKenna said. “Thousands of locals will be spending Christmas without a home, but there is something we can all do. By contacting your MPs and candidates now you are saying very clearly, everyone deserves a home, and this is what the Northern Rivers will be voting on.”
On Saturday 1 December, kids and families from KidZ Space gathered in Kyogle for the launch of a new book ‘Share the Journey’ they made in the school holidays, which has been professionally printed and shared with libraries too. (Photo courtesy: The Northern Star)
The workshop was run by the Mijung Jarjums Kids in Mind Program at Social Futures, in Collaboration with Elders from the Gugin Gudduba Local Aboriginal Land Council in the school holidays to make a book based on the theme ‘Share the Journey’ which was the theme of October’s Mental Health Awareness Month.
On Wednesday 21 November 2018 Social Futures staff and stakeholders from NSW Health, NSW Police, Summerland Credit Union, Mission Australia and other community organisations, VIPs and business people attended the launch of the 2018 Dirty Laundry Day Project, outside the Computer Clubhouse in Keen Street, LISMORE.
The day marked the ninth year of the project, which aims to shine a light on domestic and family violence, something that’s all too common in our communities, but not talked about often enough. Once again, businesses in Lismore, Kyogle and Casino are devoting space in their shop windows to hang posters and t-shirts, bearing messages from people in our communities that have experienced domestic and family violence.
56-year-old Northern Rivers local Scott Butler never thought he’d be homeless, but that’s where he found himself his landlady died and he fell ill. “The conditions imposed by the new owner made it impossible for me to stay. I was to undergo surgery but without somewhere to live that couldn’t go ahead … the reality is [homelessness] can happen to anyone…” he said.
The former school principal and IT Company manager told Social Futures politicians need to know homelessness could be a deciding issue in the Northern Rivers. “We need action, and we the voters are calling for it,” he said. “Without a home it’s very hard to work or to find employment. You’re constantly dealing with the anxiety of not knowing where you will be sleeping, if you will be safe, if you will eat. People can’t be expected to contribute to society under that kind of extreme stress.”
Not enough houses
Social Futures Chief Executive Tony Davies said the Northern Rivers was failing locals like Mr Butler and the housing situation is at crisis point. “Many organisations are helping people facing homelessness and currently we just don’t have housing to accommodate them.”
“There’s a massive shortfall right now in rental properties and fierce competition for the few that are vacant. In some parts of the region waiting lists for social housing exceed ten years. That is untenable.
“The state election is just months away and our community has placed this issue front and centre. Our vote is powerful and our voice is powerful. Together we can influence real change.”
Make a difference
“If you live in the Northern Rivers and want to make a difference, visit our Housing Crisis Campaign webpage Contact your local MP. Make sure this is the issue they hear loud and clear,” Mr Davies said.
The Dirty Laundry Day Project is a powerful community education campaign to raise awareness of domestic and family violence in our communities.
During the last nine years, the Dirty Laundry Day Project has provided a voice for hundreds of people who have experienced domestic violence. It has also engaged local businesses; community organisations; education bodies; our local police and health services. It has been promoted in the media and it’s success has been mentioned in the NSW Parliament. We believe it has truly shone a light on a difficult topic.
The project aims to:
Raise awareness and challenge long held beliefs in our communities about domestic and family violence.
Be a visible call for cultural change.
Enable conversations to begin in our communities
Provide an opportunity to hear the voices of those in our communities who have experienced domestic and family violence
Encourage community support for the safety and well being of children and create more cohesive communities
Send a strong message to perpetrators – as an early intervention strategy – that violence will not be tolerated in our communities.
Connect service providers, people who have experienced domestic violence and the wider community allowing through networking and information sharing.
Be a cathartic and empowering process for people who have experienced domestic and family violence.
Where can I find it?
In 2018, The Dirty Laundry Day Project will take place in Lismore, Kyogle, Casino and Western Sydney. If you would like to run The Dirty Laundry Day Project in your area, contact Amanda Shoebridge for more information.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, up to 80% of women who have experienced intimate partner violence or sexual assault do not report it to the police. Participating locations hand Dirty Laundry Day t-shirts in their shop windows to raise awareness and start conversations about this challenging topic.
Watch videos of previous campaigns or click any thumbnail to see full size image
Thanks to our supporters and sponsors
The Dirty Laundry Day Project is grateful for the contributions and support of:
Casino Neighbourhood Centre
Jenny Dowell (OAM)
Lismore City Council
Lismore Domestic Violence Interagency
Men and Family Centre
Niki Gill – Founder of the Dirty Laundry Day Project
QBE Insurance Company
St Vincent De Paul Society
Women Up North
THANK-YOU all and the other staff, family and volunteers who make it possible.
Social Futures is proud to be an accredited White Ribbon Workplace