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New bid to connect with homeless

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In a first for South Australia, Hutt St Centre will lead a team of skilled volunteers from more than 20 partner agencies to connect with every person sleeping rough in the city this month.

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Called Connections Week, the initiative is part of the Adelaide Zero Project, aimed at achieving ‘zero homelessness’ in Adelaide by 2020.

It involves 20 outreach teams going out on two nights and one morning from May 14-16 to confirm the names of all men and women sleeping rough in Adelaide’s CBD and North Adelaide.

Each team of four people, including a Hutt St Centre staff member, will be allocated a city zone and collect basic information as well as completing a vulnerability assessment which looks at the person’s access to housing, length of time spent sleeping rough, physical and mental health and other risk factors. Emergency departments and the city watchhouse will be included in the survey.

More than 30 organisations have committed to the Adelaide Zero Project which is based on a highly successful approach being rolled out across the United States. The Adelaide Zero Project commenced in August last year through the Don Dunstan Foundation, and in February an action plan was launched to achieve the goal of ‘functional zero street homelessness’, which means the number of homeless people in the city on any given night is no greater than housing placement availability.

Hutt St Centre operations project manager Sarah Collyer-Braham said preliminary information would be provided at a public briefing hosted by the Don Dunstan Foundation on Thursday May 17. The information collected during Connections Week would be entered into a database to inform the next steps for the Adelaide Zero Project.

While similar surveys have been done in the United States, UK and interstate, Ms Collyer-Braham said this was the first time it had been undertaken in a coordinated way in Adelaide.

Practical support such as determining what services the rough sleepers could be connected with would be provided during Connections Week.

“If they are new to rough sleeping and not connected to services, there is a mechanism to inform outreach agencies such as Street to Home,” Ms Collyer-Braham said.

The initiative comes at a time when there has been media coverage of anti-social behaviour in the Hutt Street precinct.

South Australia Police have stated there is no evidence of an increase in crime in the area. Recently a group of long term Hutt Street traders described the area as safe and friendly in a video ‘HuttStHugSt’ aimed at restoring confidence.

A working group comprising council, government, SAPOL and Hutt St Centre representatives has been established.

Chair of the Hutt St Centre board, Phillip Donato, said safety was of the utmost importance to the centre which was taking “tangible steps to identify potential solutions to the current issue”.

“These actions include, but are not limited to, participation in a working group with the City of Adelaide…,” Mr Donato said.

“Hutt St Centre’s priority is to help provide a safe environment for its staff, volunteers, clients and the wider community.”

Adelaide Vicar General Father Philip Marshall said Hutt St Centre provided a vital service to the community and its care for the most vulnerable people was central to the mission of the Church.

“A sign of the strength of our community is the way we treat our brothers and sisters who are facing hardship and need our support,” Fr Marshall said.

 

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