In the last few weeks we’ve seen a rise in the number of people living in affordable rental housing and homelessness services testing positive for Covid-19. Among them are cases in Camperdown, Redfern and Wollongong. This has resulted in Public Health Orders and police supervision just as it should in any apartment building. Some of the language in the media reports, and many public comments on social media and in private, about these actions is terribly disappointing.
These are critically important services providing care, support and a safe place for some of the most vulnerable people in our community. Yes, many of these people have complex needs, they can be unpredictable and hard to work with for a variety of reasons. Instead of blaming and shaming they need more care, compassion and support than ever. We need people to come forward, to ask for help and to get tested. If they fear the response they’ll receive we’re all worse off.
There are many causes of homelessness, the most common is domestic and family violence. It can also be triggered by a family or relationship breakdown, poor mental or physical health, and sexual assault. Simply getting older, unemployment, low rental vacancies and a shortage of affordable housing, are now leading causes. It can happen to anyone, its happened to me.
Covid-19 is scary, and having our freedoms restricted is awful. We need to come together and help each other through this just as we do bushfires and floods. Let’s use kind, encouraging language to describe the situation. If possible, help in practical ways through donations. And let’s continue to advocate for a change in attitudes, policy and investment to break the cycle of disadvantage.
Michele Adair, CEO Housing Trust