‘Early 2020’ a hopeful deadline for Gympie homeless shelter
GYMPIE community influencers are taking the lead on making a local homeless shelter a reality, setting early 2020 as a goal to bring a rehabilitative facility to the region.
The ongoing homelessness issue both in the Gympie region and across the nation hits close to home for Marlene Owen, who has spent months working with various groups and leaders to get the ball rolling.
“I feed the homeless of a night-time, and we have already lost three this year. I spend quite a bit of time talking to them and finding out their needs, and a lot of them would give everything to have a roof over their head,” she said.
“A lot of them are homeless due to circumstances out of their control. When you go to rent a place you need six week’s rent, and you’ve got to pay a bond and all this, but when you don’t have a job it’s hard to come up with the money.
“I just want to get somewhere they don’t necessarily call home, but somewhere they can get out of the weather, get a comfortable place to sleep, a couple of toilets, a couple of showers, a kitchen, a washing machine.
“Not only that, but I want to get in place to rehabilitate these people so they can get back to some sort of normality in their life.”
Mrs Owen said she had engaged in regular meetings on the issue with fellow members of the Cooloola Gold Lions Club, and relevant community groups like Community Action and Women’s Health.
She said she’d also approached Gympie Regional Council for insight on what it might be able to contribute to the project.
“They’re listening, and we are moving forward, but not fast enough for me,” she said.
“We’ve actually taken on the homeless as a project at Lions, and Lions Queensland and Australia do have moneys available for these sorts of things that we come up with.
“We have spoken with the powers that be within Lions and they were very interested in talking to us about it. They know there is an issue. They’re listening.”
A spokeswoman for the council said while it “does not provide direct support services for homeless people in the region”, it would still work with the community on the issue.
“Gympie Regional Council’s Community Partnership staff have attended several meetings with community groups and individuals concerning homelessness in the Gympie region,” the spokeswoman said.
“These meetings are part of a community-led initiative which aims to better understand and reduce homelessness through improved coordination of local services, addressing service gaps and advocating for systemic change.
“The group is likely to create a more formal “alliance” to begin tackling some of the key priorities identified in the meetings.
“While Council does not provide direct support services for homeless people in the region, as a local government it has a broad interest in the social wellbeing and liveability of the community.”