VMCH shines light on homeless older people

The not-for-profit provider sources affordable housing across Victoria.

To mark this week’s World Social Justice Day, aged care and disability services organisation VMCH is raising awareness of older vulnerable Australians in need of support, especially those who are at risk of homelessness.

An initiative of the United Nations, World Social Justice Day is held annually on 20 February to advance the concept that social justice should be the central aim guiding all national and international policies.  

“World Day of Social Justice is an important day for VMCH as it centres around much of what we do – creating communities that offer equality and dignity for all,” said chief executive officer Sonya Smart.

Sonya Smart

Speaking to Community Care Review, Ms Smart added: “Providing good quality, affordable and secure housing is something we’re dedicated to, particularly among those who are more marginalised or vulnerable within our community.”

Since 2022, VMCH – Villa Maria Catholic Homes – has been running a Housing and Care Connections program, which helps older people who do not have family or friends find housing.

People like Paul.

Before the Covid pandemic, Paul ran a boat manufacturing business in Indonesia. When the business folded, Paul moved back to Australia but was later injured in a workplace accident.

With no income, Paul – at the age of 70 – found himself homeless and living out of his car. Referred to the HCC program, Paul’s case was handled by care worker Amy Yeun.

Ms Yuen subsequently found Paul transitional accommodation in Rowville – a suburb south-east of Melbourne’s CBD – until a more permanent home can be found.

Amy Yeun and VMCH client Paul

Ms Yeun – who Paul describes as his “angel” – helps up to 15 people a year find a home across Victoria. She said the HCC program plugged a gap in the social welfare system for those who needed others to advocate for them.

“People may have language barriers, mental health problems or bad experiences with the social welfare system in the past, which makes it harder for them to seek help.”

VMCH is using the UN initiative to call for increased rental assistance and more affordable housing for older vulnerable Australians. “The system can be so rigid and not take into consideration people’s unique yet important needs,” said Ms Yeun.

As for her work at VMCH: “I get a lot of satisfaction in going above and beyond to help people take back control of their lives and improve their quality of living.”

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Tags: Amy Yeun, Sonya Smart, vmch,

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