Estimates suggest that 25,000 families will be homeless around Australia this Christmas.
Salvation Army statistics reflect the extent of the problem:
* 16,934 homeless individuals and families assisted by the Salvation Army across Australia in 2012;
* 3534 homeless individuals and families assisted by the Salvation Army in NSW 2012;
n 678 homeless individuals and families assisted by the Salvation Army in northern NSW in 2012;
* 90 individuals and families in northern NSW assisted by the Salvation Army who were sleeping in their car in 2012;
* 63 individuals and families in northern NSW assisted by the Salvation Army who were sleeping in their tent in 2012.
Our frontline staff members are telling us of some of the extreme cases they are seeing, such as whole families living in cars or in tents in caravan parks.
What kind of a Christmas will these children have?
This Christmas, the Salvation Army will give hope to more than 300,000 Australians by helping
with food, bills and accommodation. Five hundred thousand presents – generously donated by the Australian public (mostly via the Kmart Wishing Tree) – will be given to families doing it tough.
Our centre staff are doing the best they can by providing help with food, clothing and household bills – even giving people tents and sleeping bags in some cases – because there is simply not enough emergency housing to cope with the number of people who are forced to sleep rough.
The Salvation Army operates a number of programs to assist people at risk of becoming homeless, including its Moneycare Financial Counselling program and Emergency Relief Vulnerable Persons Program, and also has a limited number of crisis accommodation beds for those who find themselves with nowhere to go.
The message that we want to give to people who are having trouble coping is to seek help early and to pay their rent first – before any other bill.
It is easier for us to help people before they become homeless than when they are on the street.