The Homelessness Taskforce 99 is a
multi-charity taskforce comprising representatives from all the major
Brisbane charities which set out to find how many homeless people there
are in Brisbane, how many are male and how many are female, and what age
groups they fall into.
This information will enable the charities, the State Government, and
the Brisbane City Council to plan more accurately and meaningfully the
best ways to assist homeless people.
However, although the short term goal of the Taskforce is to measure
the extent of the problem in order to establish better ways of assisting
the homeless, its long term objective is to discover processes and
procedures which can be implemented to prevent people becoming homeless in
the first place.
The stereotypical homeless person is no longer a 40s+ male carrying a
bottle of cheap plonk under his arm. Today it is more likely be a person
of either sex, under 25, and perhaps suffering a mental illness or from
They sleep in homeless persons’ hostels, squats, seedy boarding
houses, or rough (eg park benches, bus shelters, train stations, under
bridges, in caves, etc)
Of course, homelessness is one of the hidden faces of poverty.
Governments haven’t the slightest idea what to do about the problem.
Leave it to the charities, they can fix it.
Do you think this is a cynical view? Well go and have a look for
In many ways the birth of Homelessness Taskforce 99 happened by chance.
When the new president of the Society of St Vincent de Paul took office
in 1997, he decided that his first task should be to travel around
Queensland to meet as many staff and volunteers as possible, and see the
problems facing them first hand.
However, every time he spoke to the media, from Cairns to the Gold
Coast, he was asked how many homeless people there were in their
He soon discovered that unfortunately there were no statistics of
homeless people for Queensland, or indeed for most parts of Australia.
Clearly this was unsatisfactory, not only for all the charities but
also from the point of view of the State, Federal, and Local Governments,
none of which could plan any meaningful assistance to a group for whom no
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