Ending rough sleeping in Geelong

21 February 2023
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Feedback from people sleeping rough has provided the Geelong Zero project team with clear insights to help address homelessness in Geelong.

The team has learnt that the average length of time people slept rough is 5.96 years. Many of those interviewed also revealed they’d experienced physical abuse or harm while homeless.

The Geelong Zero project, led by Neami National, has brought local community organisations together to reduce homelessness and end rough sleeping in central Geelong, Victoria by 2025.

The project was launched during a Community Connections Week . Over the week, 45 volunteers and staff from Neami and 15 supporting organisations came together to speak with people sleeping rough.

With each person’s consent, their information was added to a real-time list of people sleeping rough in the area. This list will be used by supporting organisations to guide collaborative case coordination, connect them with support services and find a secure home.

People sleeping rough were invited to complete a survey to help agencies their current situation and develop a baseline to track our progress in addressing homelessness and other needs. The survey revealed that:

  • 68% of people sleeping rough disclosed that their homelessness was due to a relationship breakdown
  • 76% had experienced physical abuse or harm while experiencing homelessness
  • 80% had chronic health problems, and
  • the average length of time sleeping rough was 5.96 years.

Many people also disclosed that what they needed to be safe and well was help with housing, food, employment, medical needs and paying bills.

Towards Home+ Service Manager, Alastair Vick, said he is inspired by the passion and enthusiasm of the Geelong Zero project team to work collaboratively in the sector.

“We’re all busy but have the desire and willingness to try something new,” he said.

“We are working collaboratively and creatively together. The passion and willingness from everyone has blown me away.”

Community Connections Week kickstarted the collaborative approach to combating rough sleeping in central Geelong. The Geelong Zero project will hold weekly case management meetings to address the service needs of individuals on the list with the view of providing rapid, safe and sustainable housing.

Geelong Zero is funded by Give Where You Live Foundation. Neami National is leading the initiative with support from the Australian Alliance to End Homelessness, Bethany Community Support, City of Greater Geelong, Gen U, Haven Home Safe, Lazarus Community Centre, Salvation Army, The Outpost, Victoria Police, Volunteering Geelong and Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-op.

Neami encourages other support organisations to join the project.

To find out more, please email geelongzero@neaminational.org.au or call 1300 275 811.

If you are rough sleeping and would like to access support through Geelong Zero, please call 1300 275 811.