What can I do to improve the homelessness situation in the community?
That is the question Toowoomba Regional Council Mayor Paul Antonio asked himself this week as he took part in a homelessness tour of the Towoomba CBD.
As part of the tour, the Mayor was joined by members from all levels of government, as well as a number of social service agencies, all looking at ways they can work together to address the matter.
“This was a great opportunity to get everyone together in one room to get a better understanding of the issues within our community.
“The tour was a real eye-opening experience and one that I think will lead to a number of positive changes,” he said.
“There is no doubt the Toowoomba Region is a compassionate area but there is still so much more we can do to help these individuals.”
The group took part in a walking tour, visiting Second Shot Expresso, the new Homelessness and Housing Hub (opening soon) and The Base Services, while listening to stories from those who have experienced homelessness first-hand.
“I’ve led a fortunate life in that I haven’t had to experience anything like what some of these people have gone through,” he said.
“I couldn’t even begin to understand the daily struggles that come with not having a home, shelter, a bed, food or even something as simple as having someone check up on you to see if you’re alright.
“This tour was a great chance to gain insight into the complexities and difficulties surrounding homelessness in our region.
“After hearing some of these stories, one of the things that stuck with me was the feeling of loneliness experienced by those on the street and how much it would help them to know that someone cared about them.
“That was a powerful message and moving forward, it’s crucial we look at not only ways Council may be able to support those who are homeless but that we look at collaborative approaches to solve this issue.
“We must come together as a community as I would like to see us become Australia’s Most Compassionate Region.”
There are currently more than 400 homeless people living in Toowoomba.
National Homelessness Week runs from 6-12 August. The Base Services is hosting a Homeless for a Night event on Monday to raise funds for the Basement Soup Kitchen. You can donate now at: www.homelessforaweek.com.au