Conversations That Matter: Survive & Thrive Grantees on Homelessness

I think we can all admit the last 18 months have not exactly been how we’d imagined. We all know the struggles of having to stay home, battling the supermarket aisles for a vital roll of toilet paper, and the endless Zoom calls (that were full of novelty at the beginning, but quickly lost their shine!).

Our sense of community has been forced online, and while many of us have been experiencing the hardships that come from social isolation and living in a virtual world, many more have been forced to access services they never had and perhaps never thought they would need to.

Your local community organisations and our community partners are working tirelessly to address the increasing need across every aspect of social wellbeing.

The Foundation is hugely fortunate to not only financially support these incredible organisations and programs through our Grants Programs, but also to elevate their voices and provide them with a platform to communicate directly with all of our incredible donors on how they are creating change in the community.

Recently, we held our first Conversations That Matter event, featuring three of our Survive & Thrive grantees – Claire from OneCare Geelong, Warrick from Uniting (Vic/Tas), and Tracey from Bethany Community Support.

Revolving around the topics of food insecurity and homelessness, the conversation was a poignant reminder that these topics are ever-evolving and complex and that our response to them should be too.

For those that missed it (or want a refresher!) here is a snapshot of the discussion as it relates to homelessness in our region.


Homelessness in the Geelong region

Did you know that on any given night, there are 1,300 people experiencing homelessness in the G21 region?

Supporting people experiencing homelessness is crucial in preventing homelessness and preventing the situation from worsening. But, many of us have misconceptions about what it means to be homeless.

“The traditional thought that springs to mind is the person sleeping on a park bench or on the city street, in sleeping rough or you know under a bridge. And that’s been what we’ve always thought is that homelessness,” says Warrick.

The misconceptions extend to the reasons people become homeless with the assumption being that the individual is at fault and the idea that “there’s always been something else that’s contributed whether it’s drugs, alcohol, mental health, or something else that’s forced them into this situation and maybe they’re choosing that or they’ve done something wrong.”

But realistically, homelessness can affect anyone.

And as more and more rental properties become unaffordable (0% of properties were affordable to those on JobSeeker earlier this year) and competition for rentals increases, many are being pushed into needing to move from the rental market into the social housing market.

In Geelong, the vacancy rate of rentals is at 1% at the moment, so the competition is rife for finding a home. With so few rentals available, and as many as 40-50 applicants for rentals, many are being pushed out of the rental market. Tracy says this makes “a certain cohort at risk of homelessness. We’re actually seeing that it doesn’t actually matter how much you earn, sometimes you’re not going to get a rental and so you’re couch surfing or staying at family or friends’… it’s not necessarily unsafe but it’s crowded conditions which create some challenges and different conflict in families and so actually then leads to can be in people can end up being homeless.”


So how are these two organisations tackling homelessness?

With the Foundation’s recent Survive & Thrive Grants, both Bethany Community Support and Uniting (Vic/Tas) received grants to directly tackle homelessness in our community and build resilience in our community to prevent homelessness in the first place.

Bethany received a $40,000 grant to educate and support workforces, tenants, and real estate agents to enable them to support women escaping family violence and others needing housing quickly and efficiently through their Skill2Build program.

“Our project is really to help address accessibility to affordable housing, to stop people entering into the social housing system and just to work with the community to understand the different needs and supports that are available to people when they’re trying to access affordable housing,” said Tracey.

Uniting (VicTas) received a $40,000 grant to help eliminate accommodation insecurity. “We’re using that money to employ a housing and homelessness worker that’s looking to assist an already overburdened system,” said Warrick.  The Housing & Homelessness Worker will provide advice, information, and practical help for people experiencing homelessness or who are vulnerably housed. Additionally, this worker will help participants to build community connections and develop life skills and capacity.


Want to learn more?

Watch the full Survive & Thrive: Conversation That Matters here.