There is no easy fix to Katherine’s disproportionately high rate of homelessness, Katherine based social worker Brett Barney said.
But working together is a start.
“A lot of these issues are structural and historical issues, which can’t be fixed by one person or one service,” Mr Barney said.
“The solution is working together… with other social workers, and it is about working with partners as well such as the Salvation Army, Mission Australia and the Hub,” he said.
Tonight around 116,000 people are homeless, some bearing the brunt of a harsh winter and sleeping rough on Australia’s streets.
The Department of Human Services is often the first point of contact for many people facing homelessness so it is vital frontline staff can identify individuals and families at risk and offer them information, resources and support.
Katherine based social worker Brett Barney has been on the ground in the Katherine region for more than two years, offering much needed support and assistance to many in need.
Working with Katherine’s most vulnerable, he said he would welcome an increase in social workers to the region – which in turn would provide more help to people in a time of need.
“It is also a matter of attracting more volunteers, it is about getting the community working together.,” he said.
The NT has long found it difficult to lure people from other states to long-term vacancies and Katherine is at the top of the list.
We need to be starting conversations about how we make a difference hereBrett Barney
Mr Barney said telling stories could help.
“Telling stories and trying to talk about what we do here in terms of homelessness highlights how we work together.
“We need to be starting conversations about how we make a difference here.”
Homelessness was in the spotlight last week.
Homelessness week 2018, an annual week coordinated by Homelessness Australia raises awareness of people experiencing homelessness, the issues they face and the action needed to achieve solutions.
A Katherine event, Hangi at the Hub, highlighted the need for crisis accommodation.
Katherine services called 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 the event.
Department of Human Services General Manager Hank Jongen said the department is committed to maintaining essential outreach services and working closely with community stakeholders to make sure no-one slips through the cracks.
“While it is essential we continue to provide payments and support services for our most vulnerable, it also important we come up with innovative ways to collaborate and address the underlying factors causing homelessness in the first place,” Mr Jongen said.