Technology to lend a helping hand 

WinterIn Australia around 2.5 million people over the age of 15 will experience homelessness at some point in their lives.

A recent Productivity Commission report into emergency housing services has indicated that one in four of these individuals experiencing homelessness, or at risk of homelessness, are being turned away from emergency accommodation.

The Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) said tackling Australia’s current homelessness crisis requires a long term coordinated strategy.

Speaking to Fairfax Media, ACOSS acting chief executive Tessa Boyd-Caine said the current homelessness crisis need substantial investment to tackle the many causes and underlying issues associated with homelessness.

“The fact that 221 people were turned away from help per day in the past year is alarming and shows that we simply are not doing enough to prevent people from falling into homelessness and providing support for them when they do,” Ms Boyd-Caine said.

“We are hopeful that the Government will sharpen its focus on housing and homelessness issues this year, and deliver substantial new investment in the May budget to alleviate housing stress and reduce homelessness,” she said.

With hundreds of individuals being turned away from acute services each day, many community service providers are turning to technology to facilitate greater support for those most in need.

A new mobile website, Ask Izzy, developed by not-for-profit Infoxchange in partnership with Google, REA Group, and News Corp Australia, aims to simplify access to emergency services and information.

Ask Izzy is free and functions as a location-based online directory designed to link the one in 200 Australians, who find themselves homeless each night, with food, shelter, health and other vital support services.

Research conducted by the University of Sydney  has illustrated that almost 80 per cent of homelessness people have smartphones, so the website aims to link these individuals to the more than 350,000 services currently available across Australia.

Creators of the app hope to provide greater support for people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Ask Izzy will help people find shelter, food, health and other support services.

UnitingCare Harrison and Knox Council will host a sleep out on Saturday 5 March at Wally Tew Reserve, Ferntree Gully.  All money raised from the event will help UnitingCare Harrison assist people experiencing homelessness.

If you have any comments or feedback, please email support@askizzy.org.au.

Find out more at Ask Izzy.

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