A NEW homelessness super-centre has opened in North Melbourne providing a range of support and accommodation services including some specifically for older people.
VincentCare's new $47 million Ozanam House has been described as one of the most significant investments in homelessness accommodation and support in Australia.
Built with the help of a $10 million government grant, the centre in Flemington Road, includes 110 short and medium-term rooms and apartments; and 24 long-term independent living units for over-55s escaping chronic homelessness. It caters for men, women and LGBTIQ people.
A homeless resource hub on the ground floor can support 250 people a day with services such as a homelessness-specific dentist, nurse, GP, alcohol and drug intervention, physiotherapy, acupuncture, optometry, occupational therapy, case management and finance advice.
There is also tech hub where homeless visitors can recharge phones, use free wi-fi and computers and access cloud storage as well as showers, gym, library, laundry and short-term physical storage.
Victoria has around 25,000 people experiencing homelessness including 400 rough sleepers in the city and inner suburbs. A large number of these are older Victorians with homelessness among older women increasing at an alarming rate.
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"Homelessness in Victoria and Australia is a serious health and social emergency, which is why we are unveiling the most comprehensive response ever seen in this country," said VincentCare's chief executive Quinn Pawson.
"No matter who you are, no matter how you came to be experiencing homelessness, no matter what you need, Ozanam House will provide support without judgement.
"We know that trauma is both the cause and the effect of homelessness, so this underpins everything we do. Ozanam house will transform the response to homelessness in Australia," said Mr Pawson.
Visitors to the centre are supported by volunteers, who have themselves experienced homelessness; and case workers who help people access assistance and services.
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