Dignity First Fund to give Toowoomba locals a helping hand

Queenslanders in Toowoomba have been provided pathways out of homelessness with funding from round three of the $2.5 million Dignity First Fund.

Toowoomba social enterprise Vanguard Laundry has employed 21 new staff and will increase the laundry it washes each week from 30 tonnes to 50 tonnes after receiving funding of $173,000.

The purpose of the Fund is to seek new and innovative ideas from non-government providers that aim to prevent and reduce homelessness and assist people experiencing homelessness to live with dignity.

Minister for Housing and Public Works Mick de Brenni said Purpose Enterprises Ltd was one of two recipients on the Darling Downs sharing in more than $203,000 funding under the current Dignity First Fund round.

“The Dignity First Fund provides for people who really need it, when they really need it,” Mr de Brenni said.

“A little money and a lot of heart can make a real difference and that is certainly true in this case – the investment has created 21 career and training opportunities for long term unemployed people with an experience of mental illness who are at risk of homelessness.”

Vanguard Laundry Managing Director Mr Luke Terry said they have bought new equipment including a commercial ironing line and dryer to drastically increase their output.

“Up until now businesses in Toowoomba have been sending their extra laundry to Brisbane for washing and ironing but now we are bringing that back to Toowoomba,” Mr Terry said.

“This funding is giving dignity to a lot of young people in regional Queensland who are struggling with mental illness and at risk of homelessness and who want to get back into the workforce.

“Through jobs at the laundry we have already seen staff get better outcomes in housing, health and their mental wellbeing.”

Minister de Brenni said Dignity First Funding was established in 2016 to provide localised, people centric support, and was essential to providing Queenslanders with housing security.

“Labor believes that having a safe, secure, sustainable place to call home, is essential to holding down a job,” Mr de Brenni said.

“There are many different reasons why a someone my find it difficult to get into or hold down a tenancy, and the Palaszczuk Government is making sure we have wrap around services to suit every need.”

“We are providing funding for a range of important projects – mobile outreach services, food trucks, community kitchen upgrades, drop-in centres and backpacks containing essential supplies, to name a few.”

The 19/20 Palaszczuk Government Budget commits a further $40 million to homelessness support, bringing the total funding for homelessness in Queensland to $180 million.

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