School was out for summer
$960,000 grant aids inner city homeless
By Damir Govorcin
The St Vincent de Paul Society has received a capital injection of $960,000 from the NSW Government for the redevelopment of its inner city homeless services.
The grant includes $300,000 a year for two years for the Matthew Talbot Hostel for homeless men and $180,000 a year for two years for the Vincentian Village, which provides family crisis accommodation and day care services.
Pat O'Flynn, state president of the St Vincent de Paul Society, says the one-off grant "represents a real investment in breaking the cycle of homelessness, rather than just getting them off the streets and out of harm's way".
The "changing face" of homeless people has necessitated a new approach to their plight.
"It's no longer enough to just care for the crisis of somewhere safe to sleep for these vulnerable men," Mr O'Flynn says.
"We need to help them rediscover a way of becoming a part of our Australian community again.
"The experience of being homeless is characterised by feeling completely outside of the community, without hope and without a meaningful place in it. It becomes an ever-increasing downward spiral if there is no effective intervention.
"At the Matthew Talbot Hostel we care for the safety and security of homeless men seeking shelter and have begun a process of helping them back into the community through case management, rehabilitation and education at our Charles O'Neill House.
"But the challenge is to assist the large number of men visiting the Talbot who only seek our day care services. How to help them change their lifestyle and case manage that process."
Mr O'Flynn says the grant "will herald the beginning of a more individually oriented program for each day care user, acting as a circuit breaker from homelessness to the road to rehabilitation".
The Matthew Talbot Hostel, in Woolloomooloo, will use the funds to provide training for staff in the areas of case management and in assessing the requirements of day care services.
The Vincentian Village, in East Sydney, will use the money to employ one part time and two full time workers to meet the needs of the people it helps and to helpmaintain the viability of its services. It provides more than 100 meals a day for homeless people, and accommodation for up to nine homeless families and nine homeless single women every night.
Vinnies is the largest provider of homeless services in NSW, with 740 beds available every night; it provides 900,000 meals a year.
NSW Community Services Minister Carmel Tebbutt says the funding "will enable St Vincent's to provide more personalised care and support to homeless people, as well as better management of services through improved assessments".
These include establishing case management services for up to 200 users of the day program and the 120 men who sleep in the Matthew Talbot Hostel each night, says Ms Tebbutt.
"This is in line with the Society's plans to align the Matthew Talbot Hostel with other inner city services so that they can better meet the long term needs of clients," she says.
"Every client of the hostel will have a complete assessment over six months. They will also receive greater support from caseworkers in line with the key objective to help people move from homelessness to independent living."
The St Vincent de Paul Society is the largest provider of Supported Accommodation Assistance Program services in NSW.
It receives $11.4 million to provide 36 such services throughout NSW - including more than $3.4 million for the Matthew Talbot Hostel and $432,000 for the Vincentian Village Services.
It assisted more than 539,000 people across NSW last year.
The $960,000 grant comes on top of $230,000 raised by city pubs at the Hotels Have Hearts dinner, which was organised by the Australian Hotels Association.