(From left) Glen Mahoney, PHN's Nicole Cool and Gympie volunteer centre's Cassandra Elstob hope to bring Orange Sky Laundry to Gympie to help our homeless.
(From left) Glen Mahoney, PHN's Nicole Cool and Gympie volunteer centre's Cassandra Elstob hope to bring Orange Sky Laundry to Gympie to help our homeless. Scott Kovacevic

Major hurdles for homeless laundry help identified

VOLUNTEER manpower and funding for a $100,000 van are two of the biggest hurdles facing the establishment of an Orange Sky Laundry van in the Gympie region following a community meeting yesterday.

Organisers said the meeting was a positive first step in helping the region's homeless, which according to a 2014 Queensland survey features a significant younger demographic at an average age of 21.6 years, and more than 40% of adults reporting "co-occuring mental health issues, chronic health problems and substance abuse”.

Orange Sky Laundry's Sunshine Coast service manager Glen Mahoney said the meeting was a great step forward, allowing them to identify key problems and potential ways to overcome them - chief among them, area logistics.

"It's a standalone location which would mean its own van,” Mr Mahoney said.

With the nearest van operating on the Sunshine Coast, he said relying on it would need volunteers willing to drive an hour in to town and back.

While having a van operating from Gympie would benefit the region, providing service to areas like Tin Can Bay and Rainbow Beach, it was hindered by the $100,000 required to purchase and fully outfit one.

Victory Care Services community pastor Kevin Dailly, who was unable to attend the meeting but texted his support through to others attending, said he believed it was a service which would be of immense benefit to the community.

"It's important that locals look after other locals,” Mr Dailly said.

According to Mr Dailly, the homeless population in Gympie was not insignificant - at one time recently, he said there were more than 60 - they were often overlooked because they had a tendency to remain under the radar.

"I couldn't tell you the exact number at the moment,” he said.

"But I can tell you we have a large number of homeless at the moment.”

Pointing out they don't stay in obvious places for safety reasons, Mr Dailly said those moved on often never went too far.

"It's just a round robin; they go around three or four places, and just go back to where they started.”

Mr Mahoney agreed the homeless were easily overlooked, often because people wanted to hope otherwise.

"It's because I don't think they want to believe that there's homeless,” he said.

"I think that the homeless are very discreet.”

Gympie Times


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