No doubt many of us are feeling the concern that comes with the uncertainty of the current public health crisis.
I join with you in taking every precaution to safeguard ourselves, our loved ones and our communities from the spread of COVID-19.
We know that the most vulnerable in society are often those most greatly impacted at times like this.
Our ability to prioritise our vital services becomes ever more important to ensure no one is left behind.
At Mission Australia the ongoing need to ensure safety and wellbeing for everyone is crucial.
Doing all we can to protect our most vulnerable will help our communities handle this public health challenge now, and thrive into the future.
People struggling to make ends meet, some older people, those with poor physical or mental health, or living remotely, simply aren't able to stockpile food and resources.
They're also at risk of being pushed further into homelessness, poverty and vulnerability during this period of unprecedented instability.
Mission Australia has a strong focus on reducing homelessness and strengthening communities, so we are of course concerned about the impact of coronavirus on people currently experiencing or who are at risk of homelessness.
There's so much to be done during this time to ensure that people are looked after, safely and appropriately housed and assisted so that they can continue to access the community supports that they need.
As the part-time and casual work of hospitality, entertainment, fitness and ride-sharing dries up, we can already see that there are many people who can no longer pay the rent and who are now at increased risk of homelessness.
We welcome the government's social security stimulus, as it will mean more people will be able to continue to pay rent and stay home safe.
We must still consider there are more than 100 people in Goulburn-Mulwaree and 116,000 people across Australia who are homeless.
These people don't have a safe place to self-isolate during the pandemic.
Without a home, we cannot expect people to self-isolate, stay well and stop the spread of the virus.
Having previously worked as a program manager with Missionbeat Sydney, I know that rough sleeping can be particularly isolating and many who sleep rough are facing complex health issues, which place them at greater risk of negative impacts of this virus.
There are also many others who are living in overcrowded dwellings - which is a hidden type of homelessness.
We need to provide an immediate response to ensure people have somewhere they are safe and make sure people who live in large share houses or overcrowded housing are safe if someone in their household is forced to self-isolate.
We also need long-term investment in social and affordable housing that keeps people safe and well.
This has positive economic and social outcomes, creating more jobs and ensuring we can reduce homelessness over the longer term so people have a safe foundation to face the crises that come.
We should remain diligent as we look after the health and security of ourselves and seek to protect our own families, loved ones and those within our communities.
I also hope, that now more than ever, our community looks out for the needs of the most vulnerable people in our community, to ensure nobody is left behind.
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