To change “what is”, into “what should be”
Our advocacy ranges from advocating for individuals for housing and other issues; to promoting to our local Council about issues; and speaking out to different levels of government about issues we are passionate about such as homelessness. Throughout the years, we have seen many successes and been apart of many failures, but we believe that by speaking out, we are effecting change.
For an individual, we may advocate for them to other services or organisations on their behalf (and with their permission) for issues such as housing, accessing services, and assisting with matters with Centrelink, DHHS, the Dept. of Housing, as well as landlords and real estate agencies.
Locally, we have seen a significant change in the Yarra Ranges Council’s approach to homelessness, due, in part, to over ten years of our advocacy. From almost ignoring the issue, the Yarra Ranges Council now actively takes part in advocating for housing and homelessness, as well as enacting a Homeless Protocol for their staff and contractors to follow when dealing with someone who identifies as being homeless.
We are part of the Yarra Ranges Housing Action Group (YRHAG), a coalition of individuals and organisations with a drive to creating housing and end homelessness within the Yarra Ranges. Along with Anchor, the Jim Fuller House, St Vincent de Paul, the Salvation Army, and many other individuals, YRHAG has submitted to Federal and State enquiries into homelessness and housing. Also, the Group has conducted forums, and other events to both educate and create change in both the public and elected officials views on these issues.
A week of action and advocacy around the issues of homelessness
Promoted by Homelessness Australia, the national peak body, the week is a national effort to create awareness and action.
Held in the first full week of August each year, Homeless Week is a vital part of our yearly calendar, and an opportunity to engage the media and community. Local activities include a media-launch – with speakers from local homeless agencies and the Council for Homeless Persons; to a Memorial Service for the Homeless.
Other events include discussions centred around issues such as Homelessness and Indigenous Communities etc., ‘street walks’ around Lilydale highlighting locations of where rough sleepers have braved the night, to a public-sleepover.
Cr Tim Heenan has been a regular part of the activities for several years, utilising his sleep out in a cardboard box to both incite conversations and advocate the issues of rough sleeping. With over 150 nights, and over some of the coldest nights of the year, Cr Heenan has been a very vocal voice for the issues of homelessness and friend and advocate for Holy Fools.
Holy Fools has been the catalyst for many of the events so far. In 2020 the plan is to get the community and other organisations involved, creating a week-long, and Yarra Valley-wide, series of events and activities to engage the media and the community.