While many are concerned about the rising cost of living and especially higher energy prices during winter, around 1 in every 200 Australians are homeless. With temperatures dropping to dangerous levels this winter, it’s even harder for those who are sleeping hard to survive.
Fears of rising homelessness
A number of factors are contributing to financial stress in many Australian households. Not only is inflation sky-high, but interest rates are rising and rental costs continue to go up. According to a recent report, almost three-quarters (72.5%) of low-income households would have been thrown into rental stress without the Commonwealth Rent Assistance (CRA).
But most worrying is the fact that almost half of those (45.7%) who receive the CRA are still experiencing severe rental stress and are at risk of homelessness. With so many people in Sydney and around the country not having their housing needs met, it makes winter an even more frightening prospect.
The effects of winter on those sleeping hard
We all know that cold weather can cause significant health problems if you aren’t adequately protected against the elements. For the homeless population who may already be struggling financially and don’t have access to adequate clothes, food and shelter, it can result in life-threatening risks:
- Hypothermia: Unsheltered homelessness can lead to hypothermia, which is when the body’s temperature drops below 35°C. Memory loss, slurred speech, drowsiness and body shakes are all symptoms of hypothermia.
- No room: In winter, homeless shelters fill up much faster than at other times of the year. This means those most vulnerable may not have access to a safe, sheltered place to sleep out the long nights.
- Risk of illness: Seeking warmth in winter generally leads to people congregating closely together, but for some it may have been a long time since they were checked on by a health professional. This can lead to the spread of flu and other viruses, including coronavirus.
- Lack of sleep: With no other options, people may have to end up sleeping on freezing-cold concrete or metal seats like at bus stops, which leaves them open to the elements and puts them in danger of being threatened or even attacked.
What you can do
We know that many Australians are doing it tough this year financially, but even a little can go such a long way. By making a donation to Brothers In Need, you will be supporting our Homeless Programs initiative, which provides assistance to the growing number of homeless and those on very low incomes – including a disturbing amount of young people.
We provide everything from hot meals, fruit, non-perishable food items and drinks, to hygiene packs and other essential items. We have also partnered with other welfare organisations to provide food vouchers to families who are doing it tough financially.
Our Brothers In Need van is a familiar sight in the Sydney CBD every Saturday night at Martin Place, among other locations. In Brisbane, our Outreach program is conducted on both Tuesday and Saturday evenings. Making a donation is easy, and it really does help those who need it most this winter.
If you would like to support any of these programs, you can make a tax-deductible donation to Brothers in Need. Whether it’s a one-off payment or a recurring donation, every little bit helps those who need it most.