Indigenous Homelessness in COVID-19: what have we learnt

AHV CEO Darren Smith has presented at the National Homelessness Conference (NHC) 2020. Discussing the impact of COVID-19 on Aboriginal housing and homelessness, Mr Smith noted the key role that Victorian Aboriginal organisations have played in driving the response in our communities.

Other points Mr Smith noted include:

  • The Victorian Government recognised the threat to Aboriginal communities early and created mechanisms to engage with Aboriginal Community Organisations;
  • There was a concerted effort to ensure messaging around safe practices and restrictions reached all members of Aboriginal communities;
  • Funding became available to Aboriginal Community Organisations to support vulnerable Aboriginal community members primarily by telephone as offices closed and face to face interactions reduced;
  • At the peak, home visits were banned completely and maintenance was reduced to urgent repairs only;
  • Numbers temporarily relocated in hotels doubled, including Aboriginal clients;
  • In the recovery period the challenge is to transition the homeless in hotels into more secure housing while managing the risks as COVID incomes reduce and moratoriums on evictions are removed.

Mr Smith was joined during the discussion by Marama Hetaraka from Auckland-based Kāhui Tū Kaha, as well as Dr Kyllie Cripps from University of Sydney. Jenny Samms, Board Member to Council to Homeless Persons, also facilitated the session.

Recordings of the NHC sessions will be available over the next two months to conference delegates, after which they will be made available to the public. We’ll share a link when they go public.