Feature article Community

The answer to homelessness is not just a roof

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HOMELESSNESS Week, an annual awareness-raising series of events, is held the first week of August highlighting the over 105,000 Australians who are homeless on any given night. On Monday, 2 August, Homelessness Australia, the country’s national peak body for homelessness, invited the Federal Minister for Housing and Homelessness, Michael Sukkar, to launch the 2021 week, which the ABC’s Patricia Karvelas hosted. Safe Place Advocacy’s Mary-Faeth Chenery, vice-president of a group of community citizens aspiring to influence positive social and affordable housing changes in Hepburn Shire, said they did not have a special event or acknowledged the [Homelessness] week. “We are…

Biloela family united but still in legal limbo

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THE detention of the Murugappan family has attracted international attention this week after the hospitalisation of the youngest child, Tharnicaa, with a blood infection in Perth. The Tamil family have been held on Christmas Island since August 2019 when Australian Border Authorities removed them from their home in Biloela, Queensland. The federal government this week released the family into community detention in Perth following significant public pressure. On Wednesday 23 June, the three oldest members of the family were granted bridging visas, providing them work and study rights while they reside in the Perth community. Chris Breen, Refugee Action Collective’s…

Fiver for a survivor

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SAFE Haven Community, a non-government assisted charity, has flown under the radar for six years supporting survivors of coercive control; women falling through the cracks of domestic violence because they were unable to evidence their abuse. The charity aims to provide early intervention pathways that allow women and their children to escape abusive relationships before the situation escalates to physical violence. It is achieved by approximately 400 volunteers donating their spare rooms as crisis accommodation to women who need a safe place to stay. Safe Haven Community launched its Fiver for a Survivor fundraising campaign to build a wholly-owned and…

Service a mortgage and transform a life

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MARK, a single older man living in an inhuman situation and under tremendous mental stress, recently shifted into one of Avalon Centre’s Home for the Homeless, a one-bedroom flat in Dandenong. Deborah Holmes, Avalon’s president and founder, said when he moved in and sat on the couch, he cried. “He told me for the first time in his life he was at peace and felt safe,” Ms Holmes said. “Avalon aims to help people who have slipped through the cracks. “This includes the homeless, people with mental illness or disabilities, the elderly and anyone requiring support. “Homes for the Homeless’…

Reforming Tasmania’s traumatic gay conversion practices

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The Tasmanian Law Reform Institute is currently seeking to reform Tasmania’s laws around gay conversion therapy. These reforms will seek to ban sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) conversion practices. Tasmania has an interesting history with LGBTQI+ rights. After relentless campaigning from gay rights activists, Tasmania was the last state in Australian to decriminalise gay relationships in 1997. Then in 2015, 64 percent of Tasmanians voted in favour of legalising gay marriage. In a single generation, Tasmania has gone from the worst state in Australia for gay rights to one of the best, earning the title of the Rainbow Isle.…

Gabi Hollows named one of Australia’s 25 most influential social sector leaders

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FOUNDING Director of The Fred Hollows Foundation Gabi Hollows has been named one of the top 25 Australians generating positive social change in the Impact 25 Awards. In addition, Gabi received the Judge’s Choice Award for Collaboration at a virtual ceremony last night (31 March 2021). Gabi was recognised for her life’s work which, since the 1970s, has been dedicated to restoring sight to people who are needlessly blind and vision impaired. After receiving eye surgery as a toddler, Gabi studied to become an orthoptist so she could pay forward the life-changing surgery she received and improve other people’s quality…

Support networks making headway for Asian Australian mental health

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In the wake of the devastating attacks in Atlanta in March, where six Asian women were killed and leaving a resounding impact worldwide, the necessity for mental health support for the Asian-Australian community is at a crucial point. In a 2020 survey where 3,000 people took part, 84.5 per cent of Asian-Australians reported one or more instances of discrimination, an increase from 82 per cent in 2019. According to Professor of Psychiatry at Melbourne University, Chee Ng, Asian discrimination, including the unwarranted prejudice demonstrated during COVID-19, adversely affects one’s mental health, sense of safety and self-esteem, leading to anxiety, sleep…

A friendly dog and a good book can improve children’s literacy

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STORY Dogs, an Australian child literacy charity, recently partnered with Dr Claire Stevens, veterinarian, author and dog lover, as an ambassador for its aim to make reading fun for children. Story Dogs Co-founder Janine Sigley said “Claire will be helping Story Dogs raise the profile of what we do and help us to work towards our mission of helping more children become confident lifelong readers.” The program facilitates the engaging idea of a child reading to a dog in a one-on-one setting while at school. In a non-judgmental manner, the child’s focus improves, their literacy skills increase, and their confidence…

Crucial issue of domestic cat management the focus of RSPCA Animal Welfare Seminar

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Domestic cat welfare is in the spotlight this week, with the RSPCA’s 2021 Animal Welfare Seminar, FELINE FUTURES, kicking off on Thursday.  Held online over two afternoons (Thursday 18 and Friday 19 February), FELINE FUTURES will bring together government, industry, academia, animal welfare organisations, as well as the wider community, to share knowledge and experience about domestic cat management.  RSPCA Australia Senior Scientific Officer Dr Sarah Zito said the online seminar was a chance to tackle some of the big issues around our relationship with our feline friends.  “Domestic cat management is a complex and persistent challenge with a high degree of community interest,” said Dr…