Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) (09:47): As I wandered up Bourke Street today, I was struck by the fact that in an area where I would normally come across several people sleeping rough there were none. The COVID-19 pandemic has been a trying, sometimes frightening time for a lot of people. I acknowledge many businesses are doing it tough, many individuals have lost their jobs and there are families in Victoria grieving for the loss of loved ones. But the way our state and the people who provide services to the vulnerable in our community have stepped up has been truly magnificent.
To see the streets today empty when there would usually be scores of homeless people, knowing that they are somewhere safer and with a roof over their head, I have genuine hope, and after we have gotten through this pandemic we simply cannot go back to normal for those who need our help the most—and COVID has increased and will increase the numbers who desperately need our help.
Having proved we actually can make a difference and we can tackle this vexed, difficult issue when we put our minds to it, we simply cannot accept that people will be thrown back onto the streets.
I will work harder, and I encourage every single member of this place to advocate for the individuals and organisations who are on the front line. Talk to Launch Housing or the Salvation Army, and they will tell you the difference they have been able to make.
Talk to the Western Homelessness Network, Wyndarra, Hope Street, Anglicare, Women’s Property Initiatives or the numerous other homelessness services across our state; they will tell you how you can help them in the future to make permanent some of the innovative and in some cases life-saving changes they provide.