How Bundaberg is benefitting from the Immediate Response Fund
- 17 August 2020 7:45AM
Impact Community Services is a Bundaberg-based community organisation using the Dignity First Fund to make a difference for people in the Wide Bay-Burnett area.
Steve Beer heads up the Health and Support team at Impact and says their staff have good connections with people sleeping rough and community service providers in the area.
“Impact has been around for over 40 years servicing marginalised people in Bundaberg,” says Steve.
“When we meet people, our first thought is always ‘how can we make this work’ not ‘oh, we don’t do that.’
“When we went into lock down, we needed to find a way to work safely and still assist people during this time.”
Impact is funded to employ extra support workers through the COVID-19 round of the Fund, which has been brought forward under the Immediate Response Fund.
Sandra Higgins, who manages support services at Impact says COVID-19 made them realise how many people are out there with little or no support.
“I’ve been shocked at how many people have no contacts and no social connections.
“It’s really hard to get support in regional areas, so we use resources flexibly to do what we need to do.
“We knew a lady living in her car with her son for a short time. She would shower at our offices every morning and dress her son for school. That was an interim measure until she found permanent housing. She was grateful to access hot water and come and go without any questions asked.”
Homelessness is often the symptom of a bigger issue. People are living with personal challenges that need to be addressed alongside their need for finding safe accommodation.
“We normally go out and find people to just have a chat and see where they’re at. We like to build that rapport first,” Sandra said.
“We help them access a GP or get a mental health plan in place first, and then we look at their other needs. It might be giving them the contacts of their local soup kitchen where they can get a hot meal. Then we start talking about the housing issues.
“Sometimes people are just happy to know where the support services are. We leave them with our contact details so if they change their mind, they can give us a call.”
“We’re honest with our clients and we work with what we can do. We look at shared housing, we look at caravan parks. We tap into all of our knowledge and contacts to help people, and we’re willing to talk openly and honestly about the things we discover out there in the community.”
“I think the flexibility of doing whatever it takes to help whoever needs help is really important,” adds Steve.
“With Bundaberg being renowned for having limited rental stock, it’s a battle [to find housing], but it’s a battle we’re prepared to help people with.”
The $24.7 million Immediate Response Fund supports vulnerable people including women and children experiencing domestic and family violence, young people, people with a disability, older people and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, impacted by COVID-19.