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About to become homeless in Canberra. What resources are there?

By streetwise - 28 October 2009 62

With limited savings left and no family here, I’m looking at becoming homeless in Canberra. Not something I’m looking forward to.

Before you stereotype me, I will point out that I have a university degree, I’ve never used drugs, never drank alcohol, never smoked. I had a steady and reasonably well paid private sector job until the global financial crisis saw several of us laid off as the company down sized. I have been applying for jobs. Lots of jobs. Even had 4 interviews over the past couple of weeks. I get on to Seek and Career One regularly. As I write this I just got a call about an interview to attend next week. I wear a suit and tie to interviews, am clean cut and well presented. I come across confidentially and have always felt confident in my interview performance.

I have also stopped being picky about the jobs I have been going for. I’d love to work in the field I have been working in, but now I’ve cast a wider net. I’ve applied for temp jobs, jobs where all you need is a driver’s licence and a car, even fast food restaurant jobs starting as a trainee cook / dishwasher.

I don’t receive any Centerlink payments and won’t be getting any for several months because I got a termination payment from my last company. I had savings, so no payment. I also had bills, so now almost no savings.

So things are beginning to hit the “when the going gets tough, the tough get going” stage. Not desperate, but time to start planning ahead. So, Canberrans (and citizens of surrounding villages) what resources are there to help homeless? To help those about to become homeless?
I am thinking my needs are:
Accommodation.
Food.
Transport in the form of petrol vouchers or bus fares so I can get to job interviews.
Access to computers to look for jobs. This though is pretty easy as the local library has them free of charge.
Access to showers.
Access to laundry. Coin laundries are fine, but where are they?
Moral support. Because getting knocked back for jobs and having no income really can be depressing.

I did try to put my shoes in those of the homeless. I walked down to Garema Place the other day, asking the homeless where they stay, where I can find resources, but most probably thought I am housed, and were reluctant to share information. I sat there watching them, as they came to ask me for money, and to ask others. I gave what little I had, as they are in deeper dire straits than I am. I guess it takes guts to do that, ask strangers for money. I saw one fellow ask several people, and get knock backs every time. I saw and heard people making excuses to another homeless man, the classic hand over the mouth gesture giving them away.

I realise times are tough, and that not everyone can spare some change, and that’s fair enough. I wonder though if there is a short fall of services in Canberra that means that these people need money to cover that shortfall? Those few I spoke to told me that some accommodation places only provide accommodation for a few weeks before you have to leave for another few weeks. I was also advised that Anslie village is for males only. I’m not sure of the truth of any of that advice, so I’m seeking definite information, not rumour.

– I’m emailing in a picture for this story.

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    62 Responses to
    About to become homeless in Canberra. What resources are there?
    Eby 11:00 pm 28 Oct 09

    I would recommend visiting the Citizen’s Advice Bureau. They are one of the key referral points in the community sector, and have an excellent understanding of what is available in Canberra (across all those issues you mentioned – housing, food etc). If you have a chat to them they will be able to most appropriately (rather than us here on riotact) link you in with support services.

    Their weblink is: http://www.citizensadvice.org.au/component/option,com_frontpage/Itemid,1/

    Or their shopfront is on the ground floor at the Griffin Centre on Genge St in Civic (sort of under Dendy; across the road from Blue Ginger. You can just drop-in to talk to someone during business hours.

    Good luck!

    LaLa 10:21 pm 28 Oct 09

    You mentioned you have applied for temp jobs, if this was by sending in an application via email I would recommend contacting recruitment agencies and asking to make an appointment to register for work.

    Even better, get dressed up in your suit and walk in and ask for an appointment. Most of the larger ‘bums on seats’ agencies have a policy to register everyone that walks in (I used to work at Julia Ross and know this was their policy). As some agencies get so many automatic applications via email, it’s much easier to sell your skills in person.

    Also try looking on http://www.mycareer.com.au, all of the ads listed in the Canberra Times are also duplicated on that site. If you don’t want to spend money on the paper but can get free internet at the library this may save some $$.

    I really hope everything works out for you, good luck.

    streetwise 9:44 pm 28 Oct 09

    Eby said :

    Would you mind (sorry if I just missed it) telling us whether you’re male or female; and approximately how old you are? This information would influence which services you could access.

    Ahh, third time lucky at figuring out how to post a reply.

    37, female.

    MrPC said :

    http://forums.homeless.org.au/showthread.php?t=4205 might be a worthwhile place to ask questions.

    Thank you Mr PC.
    That is a very useful link. Lots of useful information there. I may sign up to that site.
    I do have a car, actully a small van. I’ve slept in it more than once. I’m just lucky I have no kids to look after too.

    busgirl 9:31 pm 28 Oct 09

    If you received a termination payment and had savings in the bank why are you preparing for such an extreme outcome as being homeless? Why haven’t you moved into a share-house (or organised for house-mates to move into your house) already?

    I don’t believe you when you say you can’t find a job. Sure, you may not be able to find the job you want…that is a different statement…but a job, any old job just to keep the money coming in…Canberra has casual jobs coming out it’s ar$e.

    I understand what it is like not having family around (particularly in the moral support area) as I am here without my family also…but don’t you have any friends who would put you up for a few weeks at least? Or…maybe you should go home to your family? Doesn’t sound like there’s much worth staying in Canberra for.

    Your post comes across as a little dramatic to me, however I hope you sort things out.

    harvyk1 9:22 pm 28 Oct 09

    What about friends here in Canberra? You may be able to ask them about crashing on their couch?

    Also sorry if this is insensitive (as you haven’t said why you don’t have family here) but is there anything really keeping you in Canberra? If not could you possibly move to where your family live? Unless you have had a major falling out with them, I’m sure that they would help you get back on your feet.

    Felix the Cat 9:22 pm 28 Oct 09

    There’s a laundoamat at Jamison too, across the road from the Jamison Centre, near the Vinnies (?) charity shop.

    You can read newspapers for free at libraries or Maccas.

    In The Canberra Times most days (especially Wednesdays and Saturdays) they are advertising for people to deliver the Canberra Chronicle – may need a car to pick them up but you could walk/ride a bike to deliver them (don’t ride on the road or wear lycra whatever you do, and watch out for buses…).

    Maybe you could deliver pizzas (use their car, not worth it using yours) or work at Maccas/other fast food place.

    Can you play a musical instrument or juggle or do something else entertaining – if so you could try busking.

    What about selling The Big Issue magazine. No idea who you would contact about that though.

    Thumper 9:17 pm 28 Oct 09

    I have no idea about accomodation, yet there are jobs out there. Just keep knocking on doors and try the charities (even though they may be christian, I’m all for them looking after charity rather than governments, who seem to have no idea).

    Don’t give up man…

    sepi 9:12 pm 28 Oct 09

    I would go for sales jobs too. Various clothes shops have signs in the windows looking for staff. Some restaurants do too. Say that you worked in a shop in high school and want casual hours as you are writing a book (or something). If you say you are still looking for a professional job they won’t think you’ll stay around.

    There are also signs springing up at local shops for people willing to do ‘garden work, no skills except enthusiasm’ etc. You could try something like that.

    Also – go back to centrelink once you have no money in the bank – they will reassess your priority for payments.

    There is a laundrimat at Ainslie shops – it is an expensive way to wash though. Pools have showers.

    stonedwookie 8:40 pm 28 Oct 09

    tip if your going for simple jobs dumb down your resume.
    they dont like hiring over qualified people.
    Belconnen Laundromat
    68 Josephson St Belconnen ACT
    6251 1556

    bd84 8:37 pm 28 Oct 09

    dvaey said :

    While not quite on topic, my girlfriend recently applied for 4 jobs, and was offered 3. All sales jobs, one at a car parts place, two at woolworths and one at coles. She was amazed, because in her experience jobs were difficult to find, and she expected it would take months to find something, rather than the 6 days it took for 3 offers to come in. She has no experience in sales, no uni degree, but also importantly, she wasnt setting her goals too high, and was happy enough to settle for what came along.

    Now, back on topic, I think youd find a lot of charities such as St Vincent de Paul and the Salvos would be a good place to get assistance. They can provide food hampers, as well as vouchers from time-to-time for essentials such as clothing or groceries. Also, have you considered moving into group accomodation, where by sharing your expenses, youre not having to pay 100% of your home’s rates, power, etc costs? Ask around some friends and see if anyone has or knows of any cheap rooms available. Depending on your current housing situation, you may find youre able to get leniency on your rent, or may be able to negotiate some arrangement to ensure you keep a roof over your head until you get back on your feet.

    You make an excellent point. Times are tough, apply for absolutely anything to get the $$ to keep you going and a roof over your head. While it might not be your dream job, it will at least allow you to apply for jobs and present well enough for jobs your are fully qualified for.

    Most chairty organisations can point you in the right direction and may also be able to provide emergency accommodation. But public and emergency housing are very stretched and have probably got worse in the past 12 months, you’d probably end up on a very long list to get a place.

    Ainslie Village’s homelessness services are only for males.
    http://www.centacare-canberra.org/web.php?sec=30

    MrPC 8:32 pm 28 Oct 09

    http://vandwellers.org/ is a fantastic resource, assuming you have a vehicle or have sufficient savings to purchase one. It’s one step up from sleeping rough. It’s also written by a Canberran.

    If you know what to look for during your job interviews, you’ll find numerous open showers in office buildings.

    There’s a laundromat in Dickson near the motor registry.

    http://forums.homeless.org.au/showthread.php?t=4205 might be a worthwhile place to ask questions.

    AussieRodney 8:25 pm 28 Oct 09

    Go talk to the people at St John’s Care (St John’s Anglican Church in Reid) & also email me via my profile, please.

    Special G 7:55 pm 28 Oct 09

    The place up at Ainslie Village is called Minosa House – it is a short term Mens refuge – could fit your needs. The rest of Ainslie village you need to apply for.

    As Dvaey said – you may need to settle for any job you can get whether it is in your chosen field or not for the time being until you can get yourself settled.

    Who knows you might like the career change. You could try being a barrista – apparently the ones in Canberra are crap – bit of witty repatoir and a half decent coffee and you’re made.

    Eby 7:42 pm 28 Oct 09

    Would you mind (sorry if I just missed it) telling us whether you’re male or female; and approximately how old you are? This information would influence which services you could access.

    dvaey 7:33 pm 28 Oct 09

    While not quite on topic, my girlfriend recently applied for 4 jobs, and was offered 3. All sales jobs, one at a car parts place, two at woolworths and one at coles. She was amazed, because in her experience jobs were difficult to find, and she expected it would take months to find something, rather than the 6 days it took for 3 offers to come in. She has no experience in sales, no uni degree, but also importantly, she wasnt setting her goals too high, and was happy enough to settle for what came along.

    Now, back on topic, I think youd find a lot of charities such as St Vincent de Paul and the Salvos would be a good place to get assistance. They can provide food hampers, as well as vouchers from time-to-time for essentials such as clothing or groceries. Also, have you considered moving into group accomodation, where by sharing your expenses, youre not having to pay 100% of your home’s rates, power, etc costs? Ask around some friends and see if anyone has or knows of any cheap rooms available. Depending on your current housing situation, you may find youre able to get leniency on your rent, or may be able to negotiate some arrangement to ensure you keep a roof over your head until you get back on your feet.

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