FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday 13th December 2023
Geraldton achieves significant reduction in rough sleeping homelessness
Geraldton, WESTERN AUSTRALIA: As the festive season approaches, the community of Geraldton has emerged as a beacon of hope by becoming the third Australian community to achieve a measurable reduction in street homelessness – a key milestone as part of the Advance to Zero (AtoZ) Campaign, a national initiative of more than 30 communities working to end homelessness.
The accomplishment is especially significant in the context of Australia’s current housing crisis, where demand for homelessness and housing services has increased by 26 per cent in the past three years and many are expected to spend the festive season without a safe place to call home.
Geraldton is the second Western Australian community to achieve a measurable reduction in rough sleeping homelessness this year, with the Mandurah Zero Project reaching the milestone in August.
Communities involved in the AtoZ Campaign all aim to reach one milestone, known as functional zero. Functional zero is reached when a community demonstrates that their system is routinely housing more people than are coming into it, and has sustained that state for a period of time.
At the heart of these efforts is a comprehensive list of every person in a community experiencing homelessness, updated in real-time, known as a By-Name List. Through By-Name Lists, communities can track how many people are experiencing homelessness month over month and whether that number is going up or down.
A shift occurs when a community’s By-Name List data indicates a measurable, meaningful reduction in rough sleeping homelessness for six consecutive months.
Lara Dalton MLA, Member for Geraldton said: "This shift is evidence of a strong and coordinated approach to building trust, incorporating lived experience in our response and a willingness to collaborate by service agencies.
"I am so grateful for every person who has put their time and effort into helping our community's most vulnerable and driving this positive momentum."
David Pearson, CEO of the Australian Alliance to End Homelessness, congratulated Geraldton on their achievement and stated that their efforts to end homelessness can be replicated across the nation with federal support.
“Communities like Geraldton are proving that ending homelessness is possible. Their success also underscores the urgency for a united national effort and federal support to recreate such achievements across Australia, especially as we close out the year in the midst of a homelessness crisis,” said Pearson.
“The best Christmas present that people experiencing homelessness need is for national leadership to fix the systems that trap people in cycles of homelessness, ill health and poverty.”
The Geraldton team credits reaching the milestone to a variety of efforts, including having a designated Housing First approach and building trust and rapport with people experiencing homelessness over time and being able to link them in with support services such as mental health, Men’s Hub, emergency relief, and assertive outreach sessions.
Maintaining a strong relationship with the Department of Communities has also been an integral part of the Geraldton Zero Project’s success.
Consistent attendance and participation in Rough Sleeper Coordination Group (RSCG) and Improvement Team meetings were key in delivering better outcomes for people experiencing homelessness by allowing not-for-profits, government departments and local housing and homelessness services to come together and work to improve systems or house people on the By-Name List.
While the Geraldton Zero Project has its sights set on ending rough sleeping for families in Geraldton in 2024, the broader objective is to achieve functional zero for all people experiencing rough sleeping by 2025.
To learn more about the AtoZ Campaign, visit: aaeh.org.au/atoz