There’s a new service to help Gold Coast and Tweed Heads homeless people to be better connected – Tethered
For people experiencing homelessness, having access to a mobile phone and internet is often a matter of survival as it enables them to interact with a wide range of services and agencies, find employment, access housing and maintain contact with the community and their loved ones.
According to a recent study by the University of Sydney, about 95 per cent of people experiencing homelessness own a mobile phone but staying connected is difficult.
To help address this issue, the Gold and Tweed Coasts Churches of Christ developed a new service called Tethered which delivers digital literacy and digital inclusion services to homeless people living across the region by way of multiple vehicles providing a mobile service.
“On the Gold Coast there are currently an estimated 5000 – 5500 homeless people on any night and it is projected that this number will continue to increase in the future,” said Bruce Murray, Regional Engagement Partner, Churches of Christ.
“People without digital skills are more likely to encounter profound disadvantage because they miss out on the online opportunities that improve health and social connectivity, education and employment. With government services such as those provided by Medicare and Centrelink moving to a digital-first model, having access and the skills to use the internet is crucial. Present services to the homeless primarily address the issues of nutrition and hygiene.”
The Tethered vehicles are fitted out with Wi-Fi connectivity (e.g.Telstra hotspots), mobile devices such as tablets and laptops to access online services, charging stations and swappable power packs, access to a printer, recycled smartphones and computers, and digital literacy support.
“We are so grateful to the ETC Community Support Fund whose generous grant enabled us to kick start this program for the Gold Coast and Tweed Heads homeless,” Mr Murray said.
According to Tethered Volunteer John Latta, it was important not to generalise homeless people.
“They’re not necessarily homeless because of some drug addiction, that’s a misconception. Usually they develop a drug addiction, because they are homeless. Homelessness can be caused by a whole range of reasons such as natural disasters, divorce and/or domestic violence. So helping them to reconnect with community and their loved ones is crucial,” Mr Latta said.
ETC Board Director Isabelle Borrelli, said it was a pleasure to be able to support the Gold and Tweed Coasts Churches of Christ with $4,500 towards their Tethered program.
“The ETC Community Support Fund is designed to help organisations reduce disadvantage, generate opportunity, increase support services and/or build capacity in the communities in which we operate,” Ms Borrelli said.
“Since 2012 we have given back $1 million to local communities through the ETC Community Support Fund. We are proud to be a not-for-profit company.”
ETC also provides employment and training services on the Gold Coast. If you need help finding a job, are looking for staff or are interested in up-skilling, contact ETC on 1800 007 400 or visit www.etcltd.com.au.
If you’re interested in becoming a Volunteer for Tethered, contact Bruce Murray on 0412 668 649.
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