Vinnies says complex homeless problem demands new strategies

NSW/ACT President of the St Vincent de Paul Society, John O'Neill, has announced a major shift in the Society's caring for homeless people.

The changes are to be discussed at the Society's State Council meeting on 18 February in Sydney.

Pointing out that the causes of homelessness have become increasingly complex in the 70 years since the establishment of the Matthew Talbot Hostel Sydney, he said: "The inability of successive governments to adequately understand and resource mental health services has left our facilities to pick up the pieces."

"Really helping these people will require considerably more money and people resources than the Society has been able to commit in the past, but not to do so would be to allow a growing slice of our young people to disappear into a destructive homeless abyss.

"The people who are presenting for assistance across the State today come with a much wider range of problems than the alcoholics and gambling addicts of the past.

"Relationship breakdown, domestic violence, and mental illness numbed by substance and alcohol addiction are part of the complex mix.

"Failure by an increasing number of young people to cope with a society obsessed with success all contribute the numbers of people presenting at our homeless services. These people are the new poor."

Mr O'Neill said that in the absence of any place to move on to, the St Vincent de Paul Society must take a more interventionist approach in caring for and providing a way forward for these fragile and damaged people.

He said that the key strategy in breaking the cycle of homelessness was not in providing more crisis accommodation beds, but in increasing the number of professional counsellors to work one to one with homeless people.

"The St Vincent de Paul Society can no longer wait for governments to take action. The fate of many of our State's most vulnerable citizens lies in our hands," he concluded.

The St Vincent de Paul Society is the State's largest provider of homeless services with 35 sites providing crisis accommodation for one thousand plus people every night.

Complex Homeless Problem Demands New Strategies (St Vincent de Paul Society 9/2/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
St Vincent de Paul Society | Matthew Talbot Hostel

Vinnies merging Sydney city homeless services (CathNews 6/2/06)
Vinnies set to unveil new look hostel for Sydney's homeless (CathNews 22/7/05)

NSW Premier Announces New Funding for At-Risk Local Families (Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle 9/2/06)
Voice of the poor rises in Canberra (St Vincent de Paul Society 6/2/06)
Charity, love are at heart of encyclical - Vinnies head (Catholic Weekly 12/2/06)

10 Feb 2006