Posted by Karin Soster on Jun 22, 2022
Tony Ryan was our chairperson for today’s club meeting at Cilantro.  Peter O’Brien performed the invocation and Ron Brownlees performed the loyal toast.  Peter Nolan and Charles Rener joined the meeting via Zoom.
Guest Speaker – Howard Ralley from Launch Housing
Howard Ralley from Launch Housing was today’s guest speaker and provided an overview of the current homelessness landscape in Melbourne today.   Howard has been working with Launch Housing for the past three years as the General Manager of Campaigns and Engagement.  He mentions homelessness has been described as a “sea of ankles” as these are often the first noticed body part before realizing someone is ‘buried’ under blanket coverings etc.  Homelessness causes profound trauma and mental health damage, but Howard believes homelessness can be solved and solutions are available.  The profiles of homeless people and their circumstances for becoming homeless are complex and varied.  As examples, he cited one person who had a job, was divorced and had three children, but chose to live under a bridge part time, to enable him to have funds to look after his children.  Another was a trader who lost his job and lived in Fed Square – to keep warm, he spent his time riding trains to and from the same destinations.  People drop in and out of homelessness.  Research conducted in many countries shows 49 – 52 is the average age of most homeless people, and that many will die in the next 10 years if they do not have shelter.
Launch Housing has 14 sites and 400 staff.  Homelessness prevention is their aim – help is sought from the state government for rental assistance and other agencies for homeless services.  Crisis centres provide temporary accommodation but does not provide permanency.  Long term accommodation is required to overcome mental health issues and trauma that comes from homelessness.  2 Launch sites provide student accommodation with common grounds for sharing – these are for young people, a third of whom are under age 25 with many coming from violent homes.  The average stay is 2 years in the student accommodation.  A new site in Dandenong will be launched in July and will provide accommodation for 70 families – these are women with children, leaving domestic violence.  A new concept is building tiny homes in Footscray for permanent residents – on property provided by RACV.  The tiny homes cost $70,000 to build and is a new concept that comes from Northern Europe – it enables 3 families to live on a property, however, careful consideration is required for pooling people together and house rules are applied.  Southbank has a facility for 70 people – it is a challenge placing people with diverse and complex personalities and backgrounds together, and is handled by skilled practitioners working within the field. Covid presented additional challenges but with the assistance of state government, motel and hotel accommodation was made available – it was through this period it was found the number of people living rough was 5 times more than previously known.   In finishing, Howard answered questions from club members – the property in Frankston is checked every 3 months, and its maintenance will come under more stringent regulations for compliance following new legislation introduced last year.  The State Government has announced a new Big Housing Build program, but specifics and how this may alleviate homelessness are yet to be advised.   Homelessness statistics for women over 55 is increasing.   
Club Announcements
    Market Roster for July 31 – Ron mentions two volunteers are required to fill gaps for the Bentleigh Market on July 31
    Scout Hall garden cleanup – Geoff Gartly is seeking volunteers for a working bee on Saturday 25/6 to help clean up the garden at an old Scout Hall at 26 Avoca Avenue, St Kilda.  
President Helen Announcements
    Thank you letters – have been received from FareShare, and Grant Holland from the Holland Foundation
    RI Convention in Melbourne 2023 – clubs are invited to arrange a social event for visiting delegates with options for individual home dinners, or group club events.  The general feeling at the meeting was for a group event.  Helen invited club members to email suggestions to her as clubs need to respond to the convention organizing committee fairly quickly.
    President Helen provided background to the suggestion to announce Acknowledgement to Country at the start of club meetings adding the suggestion is in response to RI desire for club diversity and inclusion. It was raised in the November board meeting, but failed to obtain agreement from all board members. President Helen mentions our club supports diversity and inclusion through its current commitment to programs such as RI Scholarships under Rotary Health, and the MITS program, and that announcing the Acknowledgment to Country was an extension of this.  However, with a lack of total agreement among board members, and possibly club members, the option to announce the Acknowledgement to Country is open for club members.  
Cake Raffle -  The kitchen team at Cilantro decorated a wonderful fruit cake during the course of the morning meeting for raffling (in commemoration of what – I am unsure, but everyone had their hopes on it).  The lucky winner was our club auctioneer “extraordinaire” Tim Lynch – lucky Tim.