PIAC’s StreetCare team are celebrating several recent successes that will improve the lives of people experiencing homelessness – with benefits rippling out to communities across NSW.
In recent weeks, StreetCare members have used their lived experience of homelessness to advise a Minister, successfully influence a government review and advocate for increased social housing in the media, with the impact of StreetCare’s work recognised twice in the NSW Parliament.
Advising the Minister for Families and Communities
StreetCare member Tony, Project Officer Charmaine Jones and Homeless Person’s Legal Service Principal Solicitor Kira Levin met with Minister Natasha McLaren-Jones, to discuss StreetCare’s work and current priorities.
They advised on the need for changes to government-funded Temporary Accommodation (TA), to improve support for people in crisis and help them find stable, long-term accommodation. Under the current rules, people can only get TA for two days at a time. Having to constantly reapply creates unnecessary challenges for people struggling to find housing, often while dealing with other issues.
They also brought the Minister’s attention to the review of the Protocol for homeless people in public places, whichadvises government, NGOs, and private businesses on interacting respectfully with people experiencing homelessness. Tony, Charmaine and Kira emphasised the importance of getting this guiding document right and highlighted the practical and pragmatic improvements identified by StreetCare. As a result of the discussion, additionalfunding was made available to deliver training and associated materials.
Influencing homelessness policy at Parliament and in the media
Homelessness NSW have developed homelessness-related policies to influence parliamentarians ahead of the NSW State election in March 2023. StreetCare reviewed and endorsed the policies, and joined the launch event with MPs and other homelessness organisations at a breakfast briefing in the Mint.
StreetCare members Rachel and Amir spoke about their own experiences of homelessness and how important a home is to improving educational, employment and health outcomes.
Rachel also appeared in related media coverage in the Daily Telegraph and on SBS television news, putting these issues front-and-centre for a broad audience.
Supporting work for women’s housing
StreetCare Project Officer, Charmaine Jones, and Women’s Homelessness Prevention Service Senior Solicitor, Tara Imrie, joined the Women’s Housing Roundtable hosted by MP Jenny Leong in the NSW Parliament.
Stakeholders from sectors including community housing, mental health and domestic and family violence support services came together to find solutions to the rising numbers of women experiencing or at risk of homelessness.
Charmaine and Tara emphasised that a cultural shift is needed in NSW, so that houses are seen as homes instead of investments, and social housing is valued as an essential part of our housing mix.
Recognition in Parliament
StreetCare and PIACs Homeless Person’s Legal Service (HPLS) were both commended in Parliamentary statements made by the Members for Sydney and Newtown.
MP Alex Greenwich noted StreetCare’s “impressive work” that improves “government policy and service responses by making sure decision makers hear directly about the importance of having a home.”
MP Jenny Leong thanked StreetCare “for the invaluable work they do to support people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness and promoting structural and systemic reform” and recognised the advice members give “to the highest levels of the NSW Government on public policy and law reform initiatives”.
The Member for Newtown also hosted the StreetCare team on a tour of the Parliament and afternoon tea, where they discussed what needs to be done to tackle homelessness and housing insecurity in NSW.