MS PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) (12:35:18) — On this cold day I think it is good to reflect that in inner Melbourne almost 400 people have no place to call home and are sleeping rough. That does not even paint the picture of the more than 24 800 homeless people across the state, and that figure is growing. This week is Homelessness Week, and I think it is a great opportunity to bring this issue into the spotlight, especially as we face, as I said, these chilly overnight temperatures. I want to pay respect to the hundreds of organisations that are working towards providing shelter and dignity for those in need. In particular I would like to mention Wombat Housing and Support Services, which is holding an exhibition called Our Story that showcases the talents of people who have experienced or are experiencing homelessness, with proceeds of the sales going back to the artists. It is just one way that we can put a human face to the increasing homelessness crisis. The raw expression pieces show that homelessness does not discriminate.
Another initiative is Melbourne’s first temporary pop-up homeless shelter, which was just launched to tackle the housing affordability crisis. It is a women-only facility in a former nursing home in South Melbourne. The idea was proposed by a friend of mine, property developer Robert Pradolin. This pilot should be the first of many across Victoria. We know that stats show that the leading causes of homelessness are financial hardship, domestic violence and health-related issues. We need to stop this gap within our community.