FLASHBACK: Matthew Kenny and Kirsten Firman, from South Burnett CTC, receiving “backpack” beds for the homeless donated by Kingaroy Rotary in 2020 … the situation is even more dire in the South Burnett now

May 12, 2022

A forum to discuss possible solutions to the housing and homelessness crisis in the South Burnett will be held in Kingaroy in July.

It is being organised by key agencies and organisations which confront the issue of homelessness regularly, including South Burnett CTC, the South Burnett Regional Council, Q Shelter, Regional Housing Limited and the Kingaroy Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The groups are seeking community input to find workable solutions for the region.

According to the Queensland Department of Communities, 189 people accessed support to find accommodation in the South Burnett in 2021.

Many of these were former renters but this was no longer an option due to the increased cost, fewer rentals available or repeated unsuccessful applications through private owners and agents.

South Burnett CTC CEO Nina Temperton said the real number of people experiencing housing accessibility issues was much higher.

“Many people are still unaware of where to access specialised support and are therefore not recorded in government statistics; they are falling through the gaps,” Mrs Temperton said.

“Homelessness isn’t always visible and modern homelessness can happen to anyone, often involving families sleeping in cars, on a friend’s couch or camping in a tent.”

Renters in the South Burnett are facing record low vacancy rates of 0.2 per cent compared with a healthy vacancy rate of between 2.6-3.5 per cent, meaning many households are unable to locate suitable accommodation.

Cr Kirstie Schumacher said homelessness was a complex issue with many flow-on effects in the community and required a co-ordinated response.

“No single organisation, government agency, business or person can solve this crisis,” Cr Schumacher said.

“We need a holistic response that requires all levels of government, support agencies, community and, importantly, private enterprise.”

The forum aims to explore the many facets influencing the current housing crisis and consider community and stakeholder ideas to create a South Burnett Housing Action Plan.

This plan would outline both short-term solutions to assist those in most immediate need, as well as longer term initiatives designed to encourage the creation of a variety of extra housing outcomes into the future.

Q Shelter executive director Fiona Caniglia commended the group on taking the initiative to bring the forum together.

“The availability and affordability of housing really is a national emergency.  The forum in South Burnett is perfectly timed, and if it can work towards a clear action plan as an outcome, we can all work together to present that to the three levels of government,” she said.

Matthew Kenny, from South Burnett CTC, said this first forum would be a facilitated session allowing people to contribute in a range of ways so all voices could be heard. 

“We will be asking attendees to share what they are seeing in their community and share their ideas to solve some of these issues,” he said.

The forum will be held on Friday, July 22, from 9:00am at Kingaroy Town Hall.

Matthew said people interested in attending and working together to support those in need in our community can register by contacting him on (07) 4162-9000.

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