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Hubdate January 2020

Having a roof over your head, whether your own home or a rental, is essential to maintaining a stable life and incredibly important for the security of a family unit.  Facing the possibility of homelessness is a daunting and frightening situation for anyone.  For our veterans, it is a very real and current issue with an estimated 5,800 veterans either homeless or at risk of homelessness nationally in 2018.

According to a study conducted by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI), 25% of these veterans were homeless for more than a month and a further 25% were acutely homeless for periods exceeding a year. This is staggering portion of our veteran population who have no secure accommodation. The number was much higher than DVA were expecting and has triggered a national conversation around veteran homelessness with a number of community housing groups contributing to discuss solutions.

Currently, there are veteran homelessness programs running in a number of states, including our own here in South Australia under the RSL Care SA banner.  The program started out as a collaborative venture between RSL Care SA, RSL SA and the Adelaide Lutheran College (ALC) in North Adelaide. ALC had a number of vacant student accommodation rooms in their facility on Ward St and through a Memorandum of Understanding with RSLSA, they offered these rooms to homeless veterans at a heavily subsidised rate. Despite some initial challenges, the Homes for Heroes program was launched by RSLSA and ALC in late 2016 and saw its first residents just prior to Christmas that year.

After 12 months of operation with ALC and recognition that there was ongoing demand for this service it was decided by the RSL Care Board to purchase 10 units in Sturt to create a formal homelessness program.  It was agreed that the program should be named after a contemporary veteran and so the site was named after SASR Sgt Andrew Russell, Australia’s first casualty of the Afghanistan conflict.   Andrew Russell Veteran Living (ARVL), as it is now known, has provided over 3,000 nights of accommodation to veterans since doors first opened and it continues to provide short term transitional accommodation to those in need.

The Hub has connected with ARVL and its new manager, Australian Army veteran Ryan Ollwitz, to ensure that we are able to make timely referrals to this service. The Hub is also able to assist residents at ARVL with ongoing support in the form of resources and connection with other external service providers. The Jamie Larcombe Centre has also connected with community housing provider Adelaide Workers Homes to provide opportunities for veterans to source secure long-term affordable housing. RSL Care SA also has a strong working relationship with community housing provider Westside Housing and through these relationships we are supporting veterans and their families with housing options.

It is rumoured that the Federal Government is considering a national veteran homelessness initiative by funding community housing providers to create accommodation options in each state. Talks are underway with various stakeholders to discuss how and what this program might look like, but at least the conversation is underway.  

If you or someone you know are homeless or at risk of being homeless and need to access these services contact me on 0418 264 886 or email me at Justin.Brown2@sa.gov.au .

 

Justin Brown,

Partnerships Hub Coordinator

 


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