Affirming a place to call home

UnitingCare Chief Executive Officer Ms Anne Cross.  Photo by Osker Lau
On Tuesday 3 November members of the Queensland Synod meeting affirmed the proposal relating to homelessness from Mr Mark Dewar and Ms Anne Cross entitled A Place to Call Home.

UnitingCare Chief Executive Officer Anne Cross said the proposal was a step towards congregations and Church agencies making a real difference in the lives of Queensland’s homeless community.

“This proposal seeks to raise awareness of the issues associated with housing affordability and homelessness, to suggest frameworks and strategies for the whole church (congregations, presbyteries, UnitingCare and Synod) to engage in these issues, and to encourage members of the church to engage with people in our neighbourhoods for whom these social issues are daily realities,” she said.

The proposal came out of a Housing and Homelessness Forum held earlier in the year and sponsored by the Synod Leadership Team. The forum explored ways in which the church might be able to respond to these major social issues.

Aitkenvale Uniting Church minister Rev Mark Dewar said the demographic of Brisbane’s homeless has changed in recent years.

“Nearly half of those who are homeless are under the age of 25 and those who are aged between 12 and 18 are believed to make up a quarter of all those who are homeless.

“Unfortunately we find that Indigenous Australians are overrepresented. One fifth of those sleeping rough were indigenous,” said Mr Dewar.

“Homelessness and affordable housing are major social issues in Australia at this time.”

Ms Cross said this proposal was to encourage all areas of the church to act. “We ask everybody to engage in this very real social problem that exists in the community.

“I think it is critical that people actually understand and reach out to who the people are in their community.”

A Place to Call Home requests all arms of the church to form relationships in their local community and to work thorough possibilities to assist people struggling with homelessness or in need of emergency accommodation.

It asks the financial and organisational bodies of the Church (including UnitingCare) to investigate appropriate models for structuring the provision of affordable housing; to support congregations who wish to provide support, and to lobby Local, State and Federal government to amend public policy on the issues involved with homelessness in Australia.

Photo : UnitingCare Chief Executive Officer Ms Anne Cross. Photo by Osker Lau