Quarterly Report January to March 2021



“John” is sitting the waiting area as I am writing this report.  Pam has just finished putting together a bag of food and a meal for him to have tonight.  He is sleeping in his car.  We have been able to provide him with a swag and blanket to make sleeping a bit more comfortable and a saucepan for him to use with his little stove to cook meals.  Bill has just arrived back from Foodbank – good timing, because John is a diabetic and really needs some fresh vegetables and fruit to eat!  “John” is hopeful that he will not be “on the streets” for very long.

“David” spent time on the streets but an agency has finally found him accommodation in a local boarding house.  David came to see us as soon as he arrived in the area. Apart from food and vouchers, he needed help with bedding, clothing, cutlery and crockery.  He was so loaded up with all we were able to provide that we also had to organize a cabcharge to carry it all to his new home!  He was a happy man!

It has certainly been a great help to have our Opportunity Shop “on site” so that we can provide some basic requirements for people who are homeless or just entering accommodation.  We seem to be giving away a steady supply of cups, plates, bowls and cutlery of late as well as towels, blankets, doonas and pillows.  Thankfully we received a donation of 25 new pillows and 2 queen mattresses from a bedding place in Cranbourne that was closing down!  With winter coming on we know that we will have an even greater demand for blankets, warm clothing etc

It is an unfortunate fact that housing remains a huge issue for many who are struggling financially.  The cost of rentals, for many, is prohibitive. Someone on obseeker allowance, for example, from the end of March will receive $307.85 a week with an extra $70 available for rent assistance. Even a room in a boarding house is around $270 per week. The average rental for 3 bedroom homes in the Endeavour Hills and Doveton areas is now around $400.00 per week making it very difficult for low income families to survive financially.. Through our “Responsible Rescue for People in Housing Stress” program, we have helped a number of families faced with imminent eviction to keep a roof over their heads along with providing help where we can with money management.  We have also provided funding for homeless men and women to spend a night or nights in a motel.  We are very grateful for the funding provided to us by the Peter and Lyndy White Foundation to enable us to keep this vital service going. At the end of March many people directly impacted by Covid19 who have been protected from eviction by Federal Government legislation, will lose that protection and potentially face losing their homes.

The other very concerning issue at the moment seems to be the extreme shortage of housing.  Two of our four emergency accommodation units currently house families recovering from domestic violence situations.  It is meant to be a short term stay whilst more permanent housing is found.  Unfortunately, despite good references and a good rental history neither family has been able to achieve private rental and the waiting list for public housing is literally years!  Their leases has therefore been extended to give them more time to find appropriate housing.

Jane” came to see us for some help with food and petrol expenses.  She is spending a lot of money on petrol going back and forth to many housing inspections in search of accommodation.  She is escaping a domestic violence situation and is being housed in a local motel with her two children whilst a housing agency tries to help her with finding more suitable accommodation.  She has been there for the past eight months!

On a much happier note I received a phone call from one man that the Centre has helped over a number of years.  When he first came to see us, he was in great pain with a back injury sustained at work.  He was in financial difficulty because he was awaiting disputed Workcover payments and was therefore not eligible for any Centrelink benefit.  We were able to provide him with help in a number of ways over the years, including legal advice, paying for an electric bed needed for his pain management, emergency accommodation and basic food and vouchers when times were really hard.  His phone call last week gave the following message….”I wanted you to be the first to know that I have just bought a house!  He was excited and absolutely delighted to have achieved this through a payout after so many years of struggle.  We have been invited to come and visit and we certainly will!!

Monday Meals were “back in action” at the start of February and many of the team unable to attend last year because of Covid19 have been able to return as well! Each week anywhere between 60 and 90 meals are provided as well as extra “goodies” like fruit are available to take home, Last week Dandenong Rotary provided a special BBQ lunch for all the guests.