Combatting social isolation and supporting rough sleepers

The City of Melbourne will spend up to $2 million this year to support people who are homeless, as well as investing in programs to address loneliness and social isolation among seniors.

Lord Mayor Sally Capp said the City of Melbourne’s draft Budget for 2020-2021 includes $330,000 to enable Council’s daily support team to continue connecting rough sleepers with accommodation and support.

“During COVID-19 we’ve seen just how much we can achieve by working together – with service providers, state government and councils rolling up our sleeves to find emergency accommodation for hundreds of people who were sleeping rough,” the Lord Mayor said.

“We’re grateful that the Victorian Government has also funded four pop-up facilities to provide health care and supported accommodation for more than 200 rough sleepers over the coming months.

“While these are fantastic interim measures we don’t want to lose this moment. We need to keep working together to find long-term solutions to homelessness.

“Melbourne must remain a caring city throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and while our community starts its recovery.”

People City portfolio Chair Councillor Beverley Pinder said the City of Melbourne would continue to collaborate with Victoria Police and the Salvation Army to place rough sleepers in accommodation, while also working on real solutions for the long term.

Cr Pinder said the draft budget includes $438,000 for the Salvation Army Night Café.

“While the Night Café is currently closed, the Salvation Army is continuing to engage with rough sleepers and is delivering around 250 meals to people accommodated in hotels each day,” Cr Pinder said.

“It’s important that the Salvation Army can keep providing food and companionship to people who may feel isolated.” 

Cr Pinder said the City of Melbourne will also invest $480,000 for Frontyard Youth Services to support homeless youth. 

“Frontyard provides a vital touchpoint for young people who need emergency accommodation and support,” Cr Pinder said.

“During times of crisis this becomes even more crucial. That’s why we’ve provided extra support, by connecting Frontyard with charity Many Rooms, which is delivering 100 restaurant-quality, hot meals for young people in emergency accommodation each week.”

Working with other levels of government, the City of Melbourne will also invest $716,000 in programs to reduce loneliness and social isolation among older residents, through healthy ageing and social support programs.

“Social isolation and loneliness are significant issues for many older people in our community – even more so since COVID-19 restrictions,” Cr Pinder said.

“We’re adapting our services to meet our community’s changing needs during the lockdown. We’re doing this across a range of areas, including refocusing our Family Services to include telehealth consultations and introducing interactive, online parenting programs.”

The Lord Mayor said the City of Melbourne will also invest a further $1 million to complete the new Lady Huntingfield Early Learning and Family Services Centre, which is expected to open in early 2021.

“This investment will allow more families to access affordable care and support services by almost doubling the number of child care places at Lady Huntingfield from 56 to 106,” the Lord Mayor said.

Public submissions on the draft Annual Plan and Budget 2020-21 are open from Wednesday 20 May until 5pm on Wednesday 17 June 2020. 

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