It is National Homelessness Week, which gives The Salvation Army, and other NFP organisations in the community, an opportunity to highlight the key issues affecting people experiencing homelessness in Australia. These issues can go unnoticed, they are often hidden but their impact can be devastating, and something needs to be done about them.
As the Salvation Army National Homelessness manager, I have seen and heard some heartbreaking stories. From mental health issues to alcohol and drug misuse, gambling addiction, family breakdown and cultural and economic intergenerational poverty. However, the most horrific trend we are seeing is the issue of premature deaths amongst those experiencing primary homelessness.
New research is showing that primary homelessness increases your risk of an early death between three and seven times, amounting to a life expectancy average of only 50 years of age. The most distressing part of this story is that many of these premature deaths are preventable.
These are not just numbers on a page. These are real people; someone’s son or daughter, someone’s mother or father, someone’s friend or colleague. People forced into homelessness are dying too young due to a range of factors including the high cost of rental accommodation, shortage of social housing, job loss and ill health which can lead to poor physical and mental health outcomes.
The Salvation Army want to bring this issue to light during National Homelessness Week. The Salvation Army is here for the most vulnerable people in our society. We work to care for and support those experiencing homelessness, not only to help them find affordable and secure rental housing, but to also journey with them to provide support and achieve positive outcomes.
We cannot do this alone. Housing and support are not the only issues required by people experiencing homelessness. The Salvation Army is calling for more support from the Commonwealth and State governments to ensure that all facets of homelessness are resourced, including the important issues of social housing supply.
If you or someone you know is experiencing homelessness and needs support, please reach out to The Salvation Army by visiting salvationarmy.org.au or calling 13 SALVOS (13 72 58).
Dr Jed Donoghue
National Homelessness Manager for The Salvation Army
WINNING AT ALL COSTS
Champions know excellence of talent makes their country, coaches and peers proud. Pressure upon contenders in any sport challenges their mental state, often to the point – winning is everything.
Two female world-class athletes recently withdrew from Olympic competition to focus on their mental state – to regroup and find what is important to their overall health. Naomi Osaka, tennis pro and Simone Biles, the world’s top gymnast, both struggled with incessant competitions. Both have had an epiphany about their need to be kind firstly, to themselves.
In Australia, sports are the national religion. Its high priests are worshipped and feted, some while still too young and immature to handle the adoration. We see in the football culture, stars are often lost in the accolades and fame and injure their reputations. Many succumb too soon to peer pressure, risking their careers by reckless behaviours.
Naomi and Simone, experienced stars, wisely recognise the elusive quality of adoration and invincibility. Mental health is a fragile, crucial component of our overall wellbeing. All sportspeople need to take regular reckoning of their mental status. Handle with care!