We know more people in Merri-bek are experiencing or are at risk of homelessness. In order to help our community we need to address all the different aspects of homelessness in the municipality.

The COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and the cost of living have created a situation that is changing quickly. The official numbers may not show how serious the issue of homelessness really is for our community.

In our strategy we want to respond to these challenges, provide long-term assistance and find ways to prevent homelessness from happening in the first place. We will aim to make sure homelessness happens less often, for a shorter time, and does not keep happening to the same people.

To develop the strategy we are using ideas from our Council Plan 2021-2025, talking to people who have experienced homelessness and collaborating with organisations that help.

Fast facts

The draft Strategy has 3 strategic directions

Each strategic direction aims to enhance outcomes for individuals experiencing homelessness and fits into three categories: response, early intervention, and homelessness prevention.

Council aims to guide staff on how to respond to rough sleepers in a way that is effective and consistent with our obligations under the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities.

We support rough sleepers by:

  • Funding assertive outreach to support pathways into stable and secure housing for rough sleepers
  • Coordinating homeless and other affiliated services with a collective impact approach, such as Functional Zero to support people from homelessness and into long-term, stable housing
  • Educating staff and the community on homelessness and how best to respond to people sleeping rough
  • Ensuring a human rights and health equity approach to rough sleepers in public space
  • Listening to and advocating for people who have a lived experience of homelessness
  • Advocating to improve the quality and availability of short-term crisis accommodation

Council is committed to supporting early intervention activities people at risk for homelessness. Through referral to programs and services, Council aims to stabilise the housing situation of at-risk people and provide them with the tools to sustain it.

We support people at risk with early intervention by:

  • Streamlining information and referral processes at key touchpoints within the organisation, such as Child Care Services, Youth service, Aged and Community support, Maternal and Child Health centres, Customer service and community centres
  • Undertaking advocacy activities to support tenants’ rights and increased support for people at risk of homelessness
  • Exploring links to prevention and intervention in existing publicly funded systems like Family Violence Service Support and Mental Health Systems, which are integral to mitigating homelessness in Victoria.

Prevention strategies aim to proactively reduce the likelihood of homelessness by addressing its root causes. Merri-bek City Council is key in promoting community programs and initiatives that could support homelessness prevention.

We will support the prevention of homelessness by:

  • Promoting Maternal Child Health and youth programs that aim to support stable foundations for families, thereby reducing long-term risk factors associated with homelessness
  • Promoting preventative initiatives including employment opportunities through job advocates, rental information, financial assistance
  • Providing libraries and neighbourhood houses as community hubs that provide safe and welcoming spaces offering referrals, administration assistance and crucial resources and information that can empower individuals to improve their life circumstances
  • Providing grants to community organisations that focus on homelessness prevention and early intervention
  • Providing that accurate and timely information is readily available at these touchpoints is particularly important for individuals exiting publicly funded systems like child welfare, Centrelink, corrections, and mental health facilities, as they are at higher risk of homelessness

Get Involved

You can let us know your toughts on the draft strategy using the form below. If you would prefer not to use the form you can make a submission by phone or email:

Name Alisha Abate
Phone 9240 1111

How can the community influence this project?

What can be influenced?

The general community can infleunce:

  • The language used in the draft Strategy.
  • The three strategic directions.

Stakeholders such as service providers and organisation who represent groups at risk of underrepresentation can influence:

  • The actions that go in the Action Plan.
  • The language used in the draft Strategy.
  • The three strategic directions.
  • How Council works with service providers, community groups and other levels of government on tackling homelessness in Merri-bek.

What can't be changed?

Matters contained within other policies of Council cannot be changed without their own separate consultation process. These include:

  • Local laws.
  • Community health and wellbing measures.

What happens next

Feedback gathered from the first round of engagement will be used to finalise the draft Strategy and develop a draft Action Plan. The draft Action Plan will be reviewed by key stakeholders in December 2023 through to March 2024. Both the Strategy and the Action Plan will go to Council in April 2024 to be endorsed.