Journalist: Sarah Matthews.
Almost 100 local rough sleepers enjoyed a sit down meal at Katherine’s Salvation Army for an event to commemorate Homelessness Week 2021.
Katherine Salvo’s Big Night Out earlier this week was an opportunity for those experiencing or at risk of homelessness to have a free meal, watch a movie and win raffle prizes.
“It’s something they wouldn’t normally get to experience,” Salvo’s Katherine Senior Case Manager Dean Jones said
“It was really good for that, something different.”
Mr Jones said the event also aimed to raise awareness about housing issues in the Katherine region.
“The situation in Katherine is we have no transient housing, no short term and no emergency housing,” he said.
“There’s a lot of funding for housing for Darwin, Tennant and Alice – [Katherine] just seems to get skipped over.
“It’s almost impossible for anyone to get off the streets into housing.”
He said he was grateful to the Katherine community for rallying around the event, with around a dozen people volunteering their time and a number of local businesses donating raffle prizes.
One attendee, Iris, sleeps rough in Katherine with family and said she enjoyed the night despite not winning the raffle.
“We had a good feed, I had [chicken] drumsticks,” she said.
“I didn’t win the raffle – too many people.”
NT Shelter Executive Officer Peter McMillan said the rate of homelessness in the Territory continues to rise, and was estimated by the ABS to be 13,717 people.
“Everybody needs a home. We’re alarmed by the number of people that are at risk of homelessness, especially at a time when there is virtually nothing to rent and certainly nothing that is affordable for many families,” he said.
“Although only 1 per cent of the Australian population lives in the NT, it has 12 per cent of the nation’s homeless population.”
He said a lack of housing in the Territory is holding back its economic growth.
“While we want to attract people to the Territory and grow our economy through new jobs and investment, we aren’t able to house our current population let alone a higher level of population.
“There’s no time to waste and it’s time to get cracking on a plan to tackle this. ”