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Covering the Central Highlands
Central West Queensland

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17 December, 2020

Mining boom in CQ Emerald leaves many homeless

THE MINING boom in Emerald and Central Queensland has boosted the rental market leaving many people homeless.

Natasha Seawright and Hayley Roberts

According to the latest statistics from Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) from December 2019, one in 116 people in Queensland received homelessness assistance.

On average, 10 requests for assistance go unmet each day.

“There is a homelessness crisis across Central Queensland including Emerald,” said Hayley Roberts Coordinator for Homelessness and Financial Support at AnglicareCQ in Emerald.

“In general in mining towns with boom and bust periods the rental market fluctuates significantly as during boom periods such as the current one people in the lower socio-economic strata get priced out of rental markets as rental prices increase or when landlords often reclaim their properties after leases come to an end forcing people to rely on social housing economic options,” said Roberts.

CQ is also resource poor when it comes to helping the homeless as there are no homeless shelters in Emerald or other facilities where people can go and have a shower like in other areas of the state, Roberts explained.

Other factors effecting homelessness include domestic and family violence.

“In regions where affordable options are limited the choice is often between staying at home in a situation where there is domestic violence or becoming homeless,” said Roberts.

In the Emerald region the largest demographic of people affected by homelessness are young people and singles over 45 most of whom are women.

“This is because housing priorities go to families as it doesn’t make sense to put a single person in a three-bedroom house and risk children being separated from their parents,” explained Roberts who has been working for Anglicare for six years.

Before working in homelessness she worked in mental health and said the two issues were often inter-related.

“Housing forms one of the basics of stability in families so if a primary need for proper accommodation is not met then mental health problems can be exacerbated,” said Roberts.

The AIHW said homelessness can be the result of many social, economic and health–related factors.

“Individual factors, such as low educational attainment, unemployment, domestic violence, ill health (including mental health issues), disability, trauma, and substance abuse may make a person more at risk of becoming homeless,” AIHW reported.

“Structural factors, including lack of adequate income and limited access to affordable and available housing, also contribute to risk of homelessness.”

The top three reasons for clients seeking assistance were financial difficulties (47 percent compared with 41 percent nationally); the housing crisis (41 percent, compared with 37 percent nationally) and housing affordability stress (35 percent compared with 28 percent nationally).

Natasha Seawright, the National Psycho-Services (NPS) Wellbeing Facilitator at Anglicare Emerald, deals with referrals for severe and persistent mental health issues and helps those at risk of suicide.

“These referrals come into our program through doctors and the Health and Hospital Services,” said Seawright.

On the issue of whether there is sufficient government support for those with mental health issues, Seawright said more funding was coming through to help those at risk of suicide with Anglicare’s three-month, non-clinical psycho-social support program.

“However, there is not enough face to face, social and emotional support for Indigenous Australians and those in rural communities,” said Seawright.



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