Queensland Government Media Release

Two Cairns homeless service providers have received a combined $114,000 boost from the Palaszczuk Government’s Dignity First Fund to launch two innovative projects.

Minister for Housing and Public Works Mick de Brenni said Anglicare North Queensland Ltd. (ANQ) and Access Community Housing Company (ACHC) had developed separate projects to help people experiencing homelessness connect with practical support and community services in Far North Queensland.

“The Dignity First Fund was designed to generate new ideas to help people experiencing homelessness live with dignity,” Mr de Brenni said.

“ANQ, which provides homelessness and housing services in the Far North, will be given $46,200 so that its Helping Hand Community Outreach program can establish laundry and bathroom facilities at a Cairns drop-in centre.

“And ACHC, a community housing provider in the north, will be given $67,980 to organise and prepare dignity bags to be distributed across homeless and support services in the Cairns region.

“Some of the bags distributed will be especially tailored to support people escaping domestic and family violence, and will include a prepaid mobile phone to help keep safe connections with support services and family.”

The project is will receive in-kind support from several local businesses including Alive Pharmacy, and assistance from other service providers to stock the bags and distribute them.

ACHC Chairman Michael Healy said the dignity packs aim to provide basic necessities to disadvantaged and vulnerable people in the Cairns community. 

“We will be working collaboratively with homeless services and welfare groups to coordinate responses to homeless people,” Mr Healy said. 

“We as a society will be judged by the manner in which we look after our weakest and most vulnerable, and we hope providing people with essential items such as toiletries and hygiene products will help boost their self-esteem and wellness.”

ANQ CEO Ian Roberts said the new shower and laundry facilities would help people experiencing homelessness in Cairns to access services most people take for granted.

“‘For many the stigma and fear attached to coming to a service leads to social isolation and rejection,” Mr Roberts said.

“By offering a helping hand through this service it helps to embolden a sense of dignity and connection to mainstream life.”

Mr de Brenni said both initiatives will also connect people needing help with other services and organisations which can link people with practical assistance and other forms of support.

“Homelessness is a complex issue, and it requires a sophisticated response,” Mr de Brenni said.

“But while we work toward longer term solutions, there are many wonderful community organisations like Anglicare and Access Housing who are helping people to live with dignity.

“Everyone has the right to live with dignity irrespective of the situation they may find themselves in, but with homelessness comes isolation and marginalisation.

“We need to offer hope as well as support. By providing services within a community hub or offering personal support, there is also an opportunity for people to interact socially, for them to engage and connect with others and to access the information and assistance they need.

“This is particularly important for people who have been homeless for a long time, and who have lost touch with many of the social and community connections we take for granted.”

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