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Funding grant opens doors to homeless care in Katherine

Funding grant opens doors to homeless care in Katherine

Funding grant opens doors to homeless care in Katherine

5 June 2017

New announcement in Katherine, from left to right: Harley Dannatt, Captain Julie Howard, Gerry McCarthy and Sandra Nelson announcing the next step to addressing homelessness in Katherine. Photos courtesy the Katherine Times.

By Simone Worthing

The Salvation Army Doorway Hub in Katherine, Northern Territory, has been awarded an innovative funding grant through the Department of Housing and Community Development.

Gerry McCarthy, Northern Territory Minister for Housing, Community Development and Community Services, announced the funding – $400,000 over two years for a pilot program – in Katherine on 31 May.

The two-year grant will enable the hub to run parallel to the existing Beacon drop-in centre, with additional support, facilities, services and resources, for the largely Indigenous and homeless population who access the centre. This will include the use of showers, washing machines and dryers.

Katherine’s homeless population is more than twice the Northern Territory average and 31 times the national average rate.
Researchers estimate one in four Indigenous people in Katherine are homeless.

“This funding will add so much value to what we’re already doing through the Beacon,” said Captain Julie Howard, Katherine Corps Officer. “It supports and extends our work restoring dignity, clean living and mental wellbeing to some of Australia’s most marginalised people.”

“For the past three years, Beacon has been a safe place where people can chat, read the paper, watch a movie or just hang out. But it’s just one room staffed by myself, a wonderful part-time worker and volunteers a few days a week.

“Now we can employ a full-time caseworker, add showers, washing machines, dryers and lockers, provide a training room and develop a family space and craft area.

“The next part of the vision that God has given me for the centre is to install a commercial kitchen, so we can serve more people, as well as teach them how to cook.”

Captain Julie Howard - focused on restoring dignity to people living rough.

The hub is definitely a collaborative effort with other agencies in Katherine. The Katherine Accommodation Action group, chaired by NT Shelter, were catalysts in the application for this innovative grant, with The Salvation Army being the lead agency.

“As it is a collaboration, Memorandums of Understanding will be put in place with other services such as NAAJA (Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency), KWILS (Katherine Women Information and Legal Service), Anglicare, Red Cross, Carers, Centrelink, Catholic Care, Mission and Wurli-Wurlingjang, who will provide in-service at the hub each week,” Captain Julie explained.

“We are restoring dignity to people living rough. There is nowhere in the town that women and children can go for a hot shower. There is nowhere the homeless can wash their clothes. They will be able to do that here now, in a space where they already feel safe and accepted.”

The hub will operate out of the same building that houses Beacon and the corps hall.

“Many people, mainly Indigenous, who come to Beacon and build relationships with us, also come to church on a Sunday,” said Captain Julie. “It’s been a pathway to faith for many, and a lovely way for our church to grow.”

In the last two-and-a-half years, Beacon has had initial and ongoing support contact with close to 800 people.

“For a small place we do an awesome job, and I am just so excited about, and grateful for, this funding, that will make so much more possible,” said Captain Julie.

* Doorway is a separate, collaborative program in Katherine and is not connected to the Salvation Army program, Doorways, which provides emergency relief and financial counselling, with its main objective to end long-term, generational welfare dependency in its clients. For more information on this program, go to sarmy.org.au/Social/Doorways/

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