Under the Opening Doors Framework, Ballarat has a single-entry point for accessing homelessness and housing services. UnitingCare Ballarat is the entry point for Ballarat, backed by a network of local services that share support, housing and brokerage resources and communicate with one another quickly and efficiently.
If you are homeless or have a housing crisis, contact the UnitingCare Housing Program on 5332 1286 or:
You can drop-in without an appointment at 105 Dana Street and they will arrange a meeting with a housing worker or:
Telephone the state-wide Homeless Crisis Response number 1800 825 955, Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm - this number will direct you to your nearest homelessness service. After business hours, your call will be directed to the St. Kilda Crisis Centre.
The Homelessness Protocol has been developed to guide City of Ballarat officer responses related to people experiencing homelessness and sleeping rough in Ballarat on occasions where there are impacts on Council owned or managed public spaces.
The Protocol outlines the approach and principles which will guide responses, and where and when the process will be applied. It aims to balance the rights of all people to be in public places, while respecting the right of communities to live in a safe and peaceful environment.
The City of Ballarat's approach to homelessness is to:
Provide information to people experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness about where they can access housing and support;
Ensure that people requiring assistance are referred to the appropriate service providers as soon as possible;
Monitor the extent of homelessness in the City of Ballarat and,
Enhance community understanding about the causes of homelessness and local support services.
Several key partner organisations including Victoria Police and Uniting Ballarat provided important feedback on the drafted Protocol prior to the document being finalised.
Concurrently, internal referral pathways have been developed to ensure that a consistent approach is applied across the organisation.
Housing affordability across the country has declined significantly in recent years leading to: increases in housing stress for home buyers and renters; large social housing waiting lists; and, growing levels of homelessness locally as demand for housing services significantly exceeds supply.
Analysis of the 2016 census data showed that 13.1% of households in the City of Ballarat were experiencing housing stress – where housing stress is defined as households in the lowest 40% of incomes who are paying more than 30% of their usual gross weekly income on housing costs. This is higher than the Regional Victorian average of 10.5% and is an increase from 12% in the 2011 census.
Whether as a social or an economic driver, having people adequately housed helps to create better communities, reduces the demand for health services, and underpins the prosperity of cities and regions.
Homelessness and housing affordability are complex issues for which there is no easy fix. To determine our role in addressing this issue, Council has utilised resources to both consult with the housing sector, as well as undertake research into current and future housing need and best practice approaches by local government. The production of four background documents informed Council’s approach:
This information was consolidated into Today Tomorrow Together: The Ballarat Strategyoutlining Council’s role in affordable and community housing under Initiative 3.12 – Provide local leadership to achieve social and community housing outcomes for Ballarat, including pilot opportunities (page 145).