In 2001 there were 6,343 homeless people who were either ‘sleeping rough’ in improvised dwellings, or with friends, in boarding houses or in the Supported Accommodation Assistance Program, according to a 2001 Northern Rivers Regional Profile survey (www.rdanorthernrivers.org.au).
By 2006 that had almost doubled to 12,372 and the problem has further increased since then.
The Salvation Army says over 100,000 Australians are homeless on any given night in this the ‘lucky country’ – of those 10,000 are children. They refer to a new breed of Australian, the working homeless, people who can and do hold down a job, the income from which provides a roof over their heads – the back seat of their car.
With uncertain economic times still persisting and many Australian individuals and families still doing it tough, the Salvation Army called upon the Australian community to dig deep for the Red Shield Appeal doorknock over the weekend. Matching the numbers of homeless, around 100,000 volunteer collectors hit the streets nationwide in an effort to raise this year’s Red Shield Appeal doorknock target of $10 million. The national target this year is $79 million, which includes contributions from the business community.
Spokesperson for the Salvation Army, Major Bruce Harmer, says that while some sections of the economy are doing well, the dividends don’t seem to reach those on the margins and they turn to The Salvation Army for help.
‘When you are living on the bread-line, car troubles, a broken appliance like a washing machine or fridge can set people back to the point of being evicted for rental arrears’, said Major Harmer.
‘There is just no extra money to set aside for these unexpected events.
‘It doesn’t matter how frugal people are, or how good at budgeting they are – for many, there is just so much month left at the end of the money that they struggle to make ends meet.’
If the doorknockers missed you, you can donate to the Red Shield Appeal by calling 13 SALVOS (13 72 58), by visiting salvos.org.au, or by donating at any Westpac branch.