Community worker Carlie Rogers inspects a makeshift shelter along the Mary River where a blanket has been used to cover an eroded section of the river bank.
Community worker Carlie Rogers inspects a makeshift shelter along the Mary River where a blanket has been used to cover an eroded section of the river bank. Renee Pilcher

Harsh reality of homelessness

COMMUNITY worker Carlie Rogers is loath to turn the homeless away with just a sleeping bag to protect them from the cold, but this is the harsh reality.

As an organiser of tomorrow's free barbecue for Homeless Persons' Week, Mrs Rogers has been spreading the word and where better to do it than down by the banks of the Mary River, a popular haven for Gympie's homeless people.

Alarmingly, Mrs Rogers came across two homeless men within five minutes.

"I'm just going through a homeless phase," one said, happy to chat anonymously.

He admitted he had an alcohol problem and that he had outstayed his welcome with family and friends.

Disturbing statistics released by not-for-profit organisation Swags for Homeless revealed Queensland has the highest rate of homelessness in the county with around 315 turned away from shelters each day.

Mrs Rogers, of Community Action Youth Service, said while people sleeping in bus shelters were the obvious cases, homelessness had many different faces and the vast majority of homeless people in Gympie were living in temporary or inadequate accommodation.

The youth service intensively supported 202 young people who were homeless or at-risk in the 2011/2012 financial year, of these around 100 people, plus children, were accommodated in crisis accommodation for a period of up to 13 weeks.

During this time Erin House, which is also run by Community Action, gave intensive support and crisis accommodation to 104 women and 165 children (2011-2012) who were homeless due to domestic violence.

Community Housing provides about 130 people with accommodation each night with an ever-increasing demand on the waiting list.

Gympie Times


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