Dignity First - Orange Sky Laundry
1 December 2016
On any given night in this state, too many people are experiencing homelessness. They are parents and young children, grandfathers, sisters, uncles and teenagers. They are Queenslanders who deserve to live with dignity. Many hundreds of them sleep rough in parks and cars, under bridges, in shop doorways and public toilets—wherever they can find shelter. Sometimes it is just for a night or two; sometimes it can become a couple of weeks or even years. Still more are referred to as our ‘hidden homeless’. They are couch surfing, living in overcrowded or insecure dwellings, or are marginally housed in transitional shelters. People experiencing homelessness are the most vulnerable members 1 Dec 2016 Ministerial Statements 4823 of our community and deserve as much support as we can possible offer. Homelessness is something you go through; it is not something that you are. Making sure people experience homelessness with dignity is something that I know our Premier is passionate about. This government is committed to a human approach to homelessness supports, from the top down. That is why the government set up the Dignity First Fund to encourage services that promote the immediate dignity of people doing it rough on our streets.
The funding comprised a start-up category to encourage a fresh approach to the challenges people face, an innovation category for organisations to fund initiatives outside the traditional way of thinking and a small capital grants category to help homelessness providers upgrade their existing facilities. I am pleased to inform the House that the response to the Dignity First initiative has been overwhelming. There were 79 applications for funding from 66 Queensland organisations and the ideas generated leave me in no doubt about the difference this program is able to make. That is one of the reasons that the $2 million we were originally offering was increased to $2.5 million. It is also why I repeat my call for certainty of a funding commitment from the Commonwealth for the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness.
Later today, I will be joined on the precinct by the organisation’s founders to announce that Orange Sky Laundry will be the first recipient of Dignity First funding in Queensland. Orange Sky Laundry was started by Brisbane boys Nic Marchesi and Lucas Patchett, who this year were named Young Australians of the Year for delivering not just laundry services and showers for the homeless, but invaluable human connection. Across the country Orange Sky Laundry services are provided by over 600 wonderful volunteers who provide 1,300 hours of conversation with homeless people each and every week.
Through the Dignity First Fund we will be assisting Orange Sky Laundry with close to $300,000 in funding to build and operate a new mobile laundry and a new mobile shower van. These new vans will operate through Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast, adding to Orange Sky Laundry’s existing capacity. On behalf of the government, we congratulate Orange Sky Laundry on their efforts. I look forward to announcing the full list of 22 recipients in coming weeks.