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Homeless Shelter Idea - First Pilot Project in Coffs Harbour

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Hi my name is Donna Pike and I currently work as a local CMC & Jp in Moonee Beach, Coffs Harbour, NSW and this is my idea to address the homelessness situation we have throughout Australia and I NEED your support AUSTRALIA!

All you have to do is show your support by SIGNING THIS PETITION! ~ AND JOIN AND LIKE OUR FACEBOOK PAGE!

The (Coffs Harbour) homeless crisis meeting is set for the 26th OCTOBER 2016, AND WE NEED THIS PETITON to take with us with as many SIGNATURES as we can get! ~ SO PLEASE SIGN THIS PETITION - ASAP  :-)

I have already contacted the State and Federal Ministers, Local Govt Councillors and met with Local Members of the Coffs Harbour Shire, to obtain the support for this community project.

I am someone who had an idea some time ago (back in 1989), demonstrating how people could recycle their rubbish by separating their black wheelie-bins. At the time I was living in a block of units raising my two young children and waiting for our home to be built.  Being a young mum, I was worried about the amount of landfill we were dumping and that concern led to my recycling idea.

So I started my project idea, by asking the tenants within my block of units to hand over their personal black wheelie-bins. Then I washed them out and turn them into a group of recycling bins. I labelled the bins and the tenants involve all agreed to separate their rubbish. I then contacted the challenge foundation to collect our recyclables. They agreed, as long as we split them in to (glass, paper & metal). We did that and also (somewhat secretly) composted our food waste. This idea reduced our curb collection waste down to one wheelie-bin of council collected rubbish.

When I could see this idea working, I phoned the local advocate newspaper to ask them to publish a story about it, as many others could be doing the same. The story went into the Advocate Newspaper in 1989, where it was then seen by the Coffs Harbour City Council. I was then contacted by the Coffs City Council who advised me that I had been chosen to receive the Coffs Harbour Environment Award. Given it was a collective effort, I said I wouldn't accept the award if it didn't recognise the tenants too, so the council made the plaque made out to; Donna King and the residents of 66 Park Beach Road.

Then Coffs Harbour & Port Macquarie City Councils decided to merge together and put the separate bin collection idea into place as it was going to take a lot of infrastructure, given it would consist of several bins to be collected and more trucks, but it was extremely successful and is now a system which has since spread all around Australia.

SO WHAT IS THIS NEW IDEA ALL ABOUT?

This new idea I have, is to create a centre for homeless people in Coffs Harbour and for it to be the first 'pilot Project" paving the success of many more in other towns. I feel this new idea can be just as successful as my bin recycling idea and as equally as important, because it would have a great and positive impact on the homeless crisis we are seeing on our streets Australia Wide.

My recycling idea came about because I had a passion to save the planet from tonnes of rubbish and landfill for our future generations. This idea has come about because I have (like many in our community), seen my own family members struggle with mental health and homelessness.

And this idea to help the homeless has come about because I can see so many people increasingly effected by the cost of living, mental health issues and spirals of sheer bad luck, all which can easily lead to homelessness.

I am not making this submission without some direct experience, or as someone who doesn't have background knowledge of the people who have suffered from homelessness, because I do. People like my brother who have suffered I have discovered are not functional to live in the “system society has created for them”, so they just end up with no alternative and live in a homeless situation.

My idea to change the face of homelessness is for the Govt to build (with joint community assistance and some community funding), a building on each Showground within each town major within Australia.

This BUILDING would consist of: -

An amenities block
A washing/drying room
Very basic (night time only) cubical sleeping rooms (Separate sections for men & Women & families)
Personal Locker cubes
24 hrs Security personnel
A functional kitchen – linked with the already existing voluntary communities & churches that cook for the homeless; (such as the soup kitchen).
And a TV lounge room, table tennis & possibly pool table interaction room.
An outdoor smoking zone
An outdoor Smoke free zone

This place of “connection” for the homeless (once established), could potentially provide: -

Easy monitoring and the history of medication & health checks for the homeless.
Dentist Checks.
Doctor Visits medical & psychiatric.
Nurse Visits for general health checks like: weight, sight, diabetes etc.
Mental Health Support group contact & Integration.
Community integration and intervention groups, assisting with a pathway back into society, such as work placement and links with training organisations.
A place of social connection for the homeless and itinerant workers, who are in the same situation, so they can connect and relate with one another.
Councillors whom they could talk to.
Living Skills Programs; such as cooking and home cleaning, greatly improving their quality of life and opportunity for housing.
The link assistance to lost family or friends, offering the homeless the opportunity to re-connect with family and friends who may have lost contact, purely because they don’t know where their homeless relative is living.

This homeless complex would offer the basics of life: a bed, a shower, a meal, support and possibly some social friends. And it would most importantly, offer those in need a more overall complete and productive health care, so there is the opportunity for them to better their health status and get the best out of their lives.

It would be a place for the homeless to feel accepted, cared about and not totally alone. It would be a place where they can see that society does care about them and somewhere where they can discover the vast opportunities they have for assistance and offer a way in which they can easily tap into those areas of assistance, and therefore improving their quality of life.

It would be a place where they could consume healthier food and obtain (non-threatening & safe) sleep. Because it is largely lack of sleep and vitamin deficiency that creates a spiralling effect on their bad health. Sleep and sound eating would undoubtedly improve their mind, behaviour and daily function.

It would be a place where they could discover a great self-worth just by having access to a hot shower, washed clothes, a haircut, a good healthy meal and general medical healthcare. This assistance would also prevent further body illness and unnecessary body deterioration.
 
  This idea I would like to call “Home Away From Home” would be funded by;-

Both Federal & State Community Funding and it would se these very (fashion Modest), but very functional sheds, being built (firstly in Coffs Harbour as a pilot Project) and then later, in every major town.
The first "pilot Centre" can be built via Government Funding (and Community Sponsorship via direct Tax Deductible donations). And once the complex is running, the unemployment or sickness benefits which the homeless receive, can be (somewhat), be recycled back into their daily care, as they pay a small nominal fee for the room, the washing, showering or meals they utilise.

The (Home Away From Home) concept has to be fully backed and funded by Government, but it can also be partly self-funded with the monies that are received back for the use of the complex. I envisage each homeless person having a photo Id scan card (kept at the centre), which in turn debits their Centrelink when they use each of the facilities such as: showers, meals, etc. With this payer/user set-up, the money which is paid to them, in turn goes directly into helping them. This tap & pay ID card would minimalize the need for any cash to be held on the premises.

This idea, I’d like to name: (HOME AWAY FROM HOME / HAFH.gov.au).

Home Away From Home could be run as a non for profit organisation, where other community groups, churches, local business and the public within each town, could integrate with their local homeless centre, offering clothing, food, money and general assistance etc.
Lots of Government money has been put into ALL other areas of health care in Australia, but Mental Health has greatly been left to its own devices.

 - We cannot keep letting the Mental Health tally rise at the rate it is going and leave those people on the streets.

- We cannot leave those people on single incomes, who cannot afford to pay ever increasing rent prices, end up having to sleep in their cars!

- We cannot keep letting so many women over 60 end up homeless, just because the passing of their partner leaves them paying bills on a single income, which were normally paid by two incomes and who have NO superannuation as they worked before that was introduce, seeing them fall through the cracks of self-funded retirement.

We the people of AUSTRALIA have to ACT NOW to stop the homelessness escalating and try to at least slow it down. With this plan in place we may be able to even reverse the financial situation for some people, enabling them a transition back into effective independent living. With this plan we can assist those that are the neediest in the community, so that they can discover their self-worth and have the opportunity to live with pride and dignity.

This project is currently a dream I have, but so was my bin recycling idea and look at what happened with that! So please consider this project and give it the thought it deserves, because I know in my heart that it will work.

Homeless people cannot afford to pay rent and utilities on their single small individual benefits. Most cannot afford to run a car either, a lot of the homeless who are effected by mental health issues are also smoking dependant, so much of their money goes into cigarettes as a result of that medical state. However, it doesn't matter what situation they are in, they can all afford a small payment per night for a bed, or a few dollars for a shower or meal.  And for those homeless people that already have their finances managed by the public Trustee, then the Centre could be linked with the Trustee to debit for these services. 

PEOPLE ASK, WHY CAN'T THE HOMELESS LIVE ON THEIR GOVERNMENT BENEFITS?

Well there are a lot of variables when it comes to this answer and I will offer you a few stories, which I personally became aware of.

*  A lot of homeless Mental Health people are being ripped off by other people accessing their key cards and pin no’s. EG: (I know my brother living remotely out of Lismore wanted to get a lift into town, but had no money), so he would call the Taxi Cab and then give the taxi driver his key card and pin number and tell the taxi driver to go to the bank and withdraw the cab fare himself. Now the taxi driver should never have agreed to that, but he did (time and time again). When we discovered what was happening our family had grave concern about the withdrawals, so phoned and complained to the taxi company so it would stop that from happening again. But now when my brother does have money for food, he still lives out of town in a remote area and needs to get into town, so therefore doesn’t have the transport to get into the shops. I also need to remind you, that most people who suffer from bad mental health issues and/or homelessness, either cannot safely drive or afford, to have cars on our roads!
*  Most homeless people cannot function the same way we do, they don't have facilities to cook meals, so have no choice but to buy cheaper high fat unhealthy take-a-way food and drinks. This is food is more expensive than home style cooking, so uses their money up faster and contributes to their bad health.
*  Homeless people also do not have refrigeration, so their food goes off and needs need to be bought when they are ready to eat it.
*  Some homeless people are so ill they are totally unaware of just how much money they even have in their account, money which could be utilised to improve their life, health and circumstances.

*  And some HOMELESS PEOPLE don't even get Centreline at all, because they have to have a fixed address to be eligible and they are HOMELESS, so do not even QUALIFY for benefits!

So why I think my idea will work?

Well I do have direct experience with trying to help the homeless, myself and mother moved mountains to obtain my brother his own unit, which was fully furnished for him. The unit was close to town and handy, but my brother’s loneliness soon had him inviting random people over to his place, whom were not allowed there. My brother was dysfunction and he didn’t clean his unit, so that led to a dirty unit which my mother and I would often have to help clean!  My brother’s money was already being managed by the Public Trustee and his income was mostly absorbed by his weekly rent costs. So when he ran out of cigarettes (and everyone knows that a mental health patient relies on cigarettes to calm their state of mind), my brother went onto the streets offering everything he owned within his unit, to anyone that would give him $250.00 (Because he simply wanted money to buy cigarettes!).

Well…needless to say, it wasn’t long before his unit was cleaned out. And by the time we discovered what had happened, it was too late to do anything because no one saw who went in and emptied out the unit. Mental health people are generally dysfunctional and there are varying degrees of that too, so some more than others. But I do know exactly what it’s like first-hand to try and help someone with mental health problems, over and over again and to see them end up homeless because they just do not "fit or function within our system". So as a person directly involved you do come to realise, what works and what doesn’t!

That is why I know the idea I call (Home Away From Home), IS THE ANSWER AND I KNOW IT WILL WORK!

So please support this idea and SIGN this PETITION to support the idea to build the first HOME AWAY FROM HOME project in Coffs Harbour and to have it potentially spread to other main towns around our country!

Help me make this first “real initiative” solve our country’s ever growing Mental Health Problem"

I am not asking for money or anything for this idea, just that all AUSTRALIAN'S gets behind it with MASSIVE SUPPORT!

My bin recycling idea was almost over looked, but my persistence saw it published, then the ripple effect just did its thing!

Well I’m throwing out another stone out there but I need you the people of this country to stand up FOR THOSE LESS FORTUNATE than yourselves!

Because at the end of the day, it’s up to you “the people of Australia" to rally the Government” to move on this and make it happen! 

And let’s face it.........we have the RSPCA and homeless shelters in every town for homeless dogs, all around Australia.
But IN A LOT OF CASES, we DON"T have homeless shelters, for homeless PEOPLE!

                                           FUNDING THE PILOT PROJECT;

I have spoken with 100’s of local businesses that have shown interest in $5, $10, $15 & $20 & $50 p/week (tax Deductible) sponsorship payment DONATIONS, to help build the (pilot) homeless centre in Coffs Harbour.

I have also noted that there are several Major Building Companies whom will possibly provide (sponsored) building labour. I am also looking to approach Bunning's or Mitre 10 to donate the building materials and I know if this project got off the ground, all our community groups would rally together to help such as; The Lions Club, Apex, Quota, Rotary and The Men Shed etc, because we have discovered that "everyone in the whole community", wants to help with the homeless!

The first thing we need Govt to do to get this pilot project running, is allocate us the land and (separate building site) within the Coffs Harbour showground area.

Please sign this PETITON NOW, SO WE CAN RALLY THE GOVERNMENT into offering us the land and funding NEEDED to get "HOME AWAY FROM HOME" started.

Thank you, and My Warmest Regards,

Donna Pike.

 



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