Katherine services are calling on the NT Government to help most vulnerable

HANGI HIGHLIGHTS HOMELESSNESS: KISP case managers Eli Sherman and Bruce Lake cooked up the hangi for about 200 people. Photo: Supplied.
HANGI HIGHLIGHTS HOMELESSNESS: KISP case managers Eli Sherman and Bruce Lake cooked up the hangi for about 200 people. Photo: Supplied.

Last week’s Hangi at the Hub highlighted Katherine’s need for crisis accommodation. 

Katherine services are calling on the NT Government to do more for people sleeping rough. 

“Katherine has 30 times the national average of people experiencing homelessness. We need something to change,” coordinator of the Katherine Doorways Hub Harley Dannatt said at Thursday’s event. 

“In May this year, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern set a target to offer shelter for all rough sleepers within four weeks. We were inspired by this bold and ambitious plan from the top level of government. The Prime Minister acknowledged the severity of their issue and set about to immediately help the most vulnerable.

“The hangi is a “shout-out” across the Tasman in acknowledgment of this leadership, and a call to our leaders for immediate action of this kind.

The Katherine Individual Support Program (KISP) team from Wurli cooked a hangi and fed the 200 people in attendance. 

Katherine based services set up stalls to provide direct assistance to people experiencing homelessness. Photo: Supplied.

Katherine based services set up stalls to provide direct assistance to people experiencing homelessness. Photo: Supplied.

The event showcased Katherine’s network of support service providers, while aiming to raise awareness and challenge perceptions of homelessness. 

“Katherine has a fantastic network of support services, working together and working hard. In part, we are celebrating that today,” Mr Dannatt said. 

“But it is not enough. Every single day services send their clients back out into the long-grass because there simply is nowhere else to go. We assist individuals who are trying to manage serious health conditions, get away from violence or control addiction or finances – but this is incredibly hard to do sleeping rough.

“Services have had enough. We need crisis or shelter accommodation to be able to tackle these broader issues. 

“We acknowledge the steps that the Northern Territory Government has been taking to develop a homelessness plan, funding programs like KISP and of course the Hub. But during National Homelessness Week it is our responsibility to say loudly to all levels of government that more must still be done. In fact we need the whole community involved in being creative about how to solve this crisis,” he said. 

A hangi is a traditional New Zealand Maori method of cooking food.

A hangi is a traditional New Zealand Maori method of cooking food.

He said while more housing is needed overall, in the short term a form of shelter is needed to help those in immediate crisis. 

Katherine Hospital head physician Dr Simon Quilty has been instrumental in getting the KISP program off the ground, which delivers case management and outreach services to people living rough in the Katherine community. 

“Katherine is a place that is solving its own problems to do with homelessness through collaboration,” Dr Quilty said. 

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