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Homelessness in Western Sydney

Forum searches for solution to homelessness

CatholicCare Social Services - Diocese of Parramatta Executive Director Otto Henfling, Rev Derek Yule, Tanya Gadiel, Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP, Cathy Tracey and the Forum’s MC, Sunday Nights on ABC Radio producer, Noel Debien. Photo: Alphonsus Fok & Grace Lu
CatholicCare Social Services - Diocese of Parramatta Executive Director Otto Henfling, Rev Derek Yule, Tanya Gadiel, Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP, Cathy Tracey and the Forum’s MC, Sunday Nights on ABC Radio producer, Noel Debien. Photo: Alphonsus Fok & Grace Lu

CatholicCare Social Services - Diocese of Parramatta (CCSS) and Churches Housing Inc co-hosted a successful Community Forum on Homelessness in Parramatta on Tuesday 8 Noember. With the soaring cost of living in Western Sydney, high rents and the urgent need for investment in public and supported housing, the Forum promoted discussions on homelessness and examined potential solutions.

Speakers included Rev Derek Yule (Churches Housing Inc Executive Officer and Community Housing Federation of Australia Chair), Tanya Gadiel (Parramatta Mission’s community services division Chief Executive), Cathy Tracey (CCSS Family & Community Support Senior Manager) and Rosemary Bishop (Affordable Community Housing Ltd in NSW Chair and Mamre Project at St Marys CEO).

The Bishop of Parramatta, Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP, hosted the Forum lunch.

To read full article click here.

Address by Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP to the Community Forum on Homelessness, Parkroyal Hotel, Parramatta, 8 November 2011

As they were going along the road, a man said to Jesus, “I will follow you wherever you go.” But Jesus replied, Really? Well let me warn you: “foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head.” (cf. Lk 9:57-8; Mt 8:19-20)

Not that Jesus was homeless in the ordinary sense. After his adolescence and young adulthood in a stable family home of a builder in Nazareth (Mk 6:3; Mt 2:23), he moved to Capernaum and lived either in his own house or that of Simon Peter (Mt 4:13; 8:5; 8:14ff).

Even when he was on the road people regularly took him in (e.g. Mt 9:10) and a team of loyal women tended to his needs and those of his apostles (e.g. Mt 27:55). So you might say it was three star homelessness or a gypsy existence rather than the kind of emergency described in our conference today.

To read full article click here.


Cathy Tracey, Senior Manager

Community & Family Support

cathy-tracey-homelessness-presentation-1.pdf Opening powerpoint;” Catherine Villa –using attachment theory to provide better outcomes.”

In preparing for today’s talk I came across the recent report Seen and heard: putting children on the homelessness agenda.  This is a joint initiative of Institute of Child Protection Studies at the Aust Catholic Uni, Mission Australia, Hanover Welfare Services, the Australian Centre for Child Protection and the Social Policy Research Centre.It reports that last year in Australia 84,000 children tried to get help from a homeless service - equivalent to one in 60 Australian children - but more than half of them were turned away.Professor Morag McArthur said, "There is little consistency in the services and support provided to children who become homeless when their families do – what they end up getting is pure chance," The report calls for prevention, early intervention and better support through:

Seen and heard: putting children on the homelessness agenda:

  • An increased supply of affordable housing
  • Simpler services that are easier to identify, access, and leave
  • Dedicated children’s workers at all specialist homeless services
  • Prioritised housing support for families, especially those with young children
  • A national framework to guarantee consistency and quality of care for homeless children
  • Specific national targets for reducing the number of homeless children
  • Expansion of existing effective programs such as the Household Organisational Management Expenses (HOME) program, which assists families with personal or financial challenges
Professor McArthur said homelessness has a flow-on effect in children’s lives, and it’s essential they get a strong and targeted response from the system.

This prompted me to think about CatholicCare’s response and obviously the response of our “Catherine Villa” service for homeless pregnant and parenting young women and their children.  So today I would like to tell you of our response; the model of service we offer the young families and some of their experiences.  

To read Cathy's full presentation click here.


Tanya Gadiel - CEO Community Services

Parramatta Mission

Thank you very much, I’m delighted to join you here today.  I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we’re gathered today the Burramudigal of the Durag nation and pay my respects to the elders past and present for their traditional custodianship of the land.  

Can I also acknowledge Bishop Anthony Fisher, Otto Henfling, John Acqulina who’s not here anymore but I know that many of you know him and he’s someone who’s worked very hard alongside all of you.  Doctor Ian Jackson and Reverend Derek Yule other presenters and ladies and gentlemen. 

I am delighted to have been invited here today to speak about Parramatta Mission and particularly homelessness in Parramatta and what our organisation is doing about it.  At Parramatta Mission we are essentially providing crisis accommodation and we also look after people who are living with mental illness.  I should probably elaborate on who we are not, from the beginning because we often get mistaken as being part of Mission Australia, we are not, we are a very separate organisation.  Our origins go back to Parramatta itself beginning in 1821 right back to the site just near the Lee Memorial Church; we have a very proud history in the Parramatta area and a history that started pretty much around about the same time as Governor Lachlan Macquarie right here in this place. 

Obviously we’ve got a lot of expansive community programs and that will happen when you’ve been involved with your community for over 190 years, I’ll go into some of those things a little bit later but when we look at Parramatta Mission and our funding, about sixty-four percent of it comes from the Government, thirty-one percent comes from commercial operations and five percent comes from fundraising.  Our vision is a community where all people are included, valued and enabled and our mission is to transform lives and to grow stronger communities. 

To read Tanya's full presentation click here.

Tags: Homelessness   CCSS   Western Sydney

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