Funding extended for Ballarat service that has delivered 5 years of outstanding outcomes for women who have been homeless in the region.

Michaela Settle MP and State Treasurer Tim Pallas visited McAuley House Ballarat on 24 May to announce funding for the facility has been extended for another year. McAuley House provides medium-term accommodation and outreach support for women who have been homeless or a risk of homelessness in and around Ballarat.

So far in 2023-2024, 19 women have been supported while living at McAuley House with a further 28 women supported who were living in community.

McAuley House brings McAuley’s model of integrated support – a proven method of eliminating homelessness for women – into regional Victoria. It provides programs to develop skills and reconnect women to food and cooking. Women have access to case management support as well as extended supports to assist in their recovery and to rebuild their lives.

In FY2022/23:

  • 15 women were given a safe place to live.
  • The average length of stay in McAuley accommodation was 166 days.
  • The average age of our residents was 38.4.
  • Almost 40% were from CALD backgrounds.

“I came to McAuley House at the lowest point in my life. I was scared and confused. My little unit became my safe place. Gradually, I regained some direction in my life,” says a former resident.

Another said “without the support of the program and staff, who know where I would be or what I’d be doing… Not only am I moving on to my own unit but I have a job, I have my mental health and my anger under control.”

With funding extended into 2025, McAuley will continue to provide this vital and unique service to some of Ballarat’s most vulnerable women.

McAuley CEO, Jocelyn Bignold OAM says “It’s always a tremendous relief when our funding for this site is extended. It’s such vital work in a place that has a very real need for supported accommodation like ours.”

Ballarat has the 5th highest rate of people accessing homelessness services in Victoria per 10’000 people, with 3,339 people accessing services in the region in 2022-23, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

While McAuley welcomes the commitment to another year, ongoing funding for this service continues to be concern, with year-to year commitments limiting the organisation’s ability to plan long-term and provide a sense of security. With a desire to expand the capacity in coming years, ongoing funding is critical to enable a real commitment to developing further services in the region.

Bignold says “The outcomes we’ve witnessed for our clients in Ballarat speak for themselves and the need is still overwhelming. A secure stream of funding will allow the appropriate investment in skills and innovation to continue to develop and expand this vital work”.

Since 2022 the team have also been working alongside families in the Ballarat area who had been staying in hotels and other emergency accommodation during COVID-19 lockdowns through the Homes for Families initiative. Supporting 16 families (including 40 children) in the region who have more significant needs than anticipated – requiring support long after their funded support period has allowed for.