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Business partnership provides safe home for Mount Gambier families

A MOUNT Gambier partnership has already provided emergency housing for four families as innovative solutions are implemented by ac.care to help people affected by the regional housing crisis.

A three-bedroom house has been secured thanks to a $19,720 donation from the CMV Group Staff Foundation – which is supported by Barry Maney Group staff – with the money funding the first 12 months of rent.

The significant donation has allowed ac.care to house families of up to four children in the self-contained property, which features large outdoor play areas to provide a welcoming and safe environment for children.

In a positive outcome, three families who have lived in the property and benefited from the stable and secure environment have since found long-term housing.

A local mother who moved into the home with her two children after previously sharing a bedroom in a relative’s house said the property was “exactly what we needed”.

“There is room for everyone to have their own space – I can’t express how much this means to us,” she said.

The mother said other living arrangements, such as a motel, would have proven difficult for the family of three, with one of her children having special needs.

“This is perfect and there is everything we need,” she said.

“The kitchen is so well set up and I’ve found nothing missing that I might need.

“I don’t know where we would be without this property and the support ac.care has given us.”

The house has become the second emergency relief property managed by ac.care in Mount Gambier, with a two-bedroom unit also used to house vulnerable residents.

That property was established under similar circumstances thanks to the generosity shown at the Limestone Coast Support Homeless People Luncheon, an initiative which is the legacy of the late Barry Maney OAM.

ac.care homelessness and community services manager Trish Spark said the larger, family-orientated property filled an important need in Mount Gambier.

“We do have families that come to use with nowhere to go, nowhere to sleep at all,” Ms Spark said.

“The option had been they would sleep in their car or we have to give them a tent.

“Now that we’ve got this property, it’s a nice home that people can come to.

“Everything they need is there, they’re safe, warm, the kids can still go to school, the parents can do what they need to do.”

Ms Spark said the two-bedroom unit, used by ac.care for emergency housing over the last four years, worked well for single people and couples, but fell short of providing adequate space for families with children.

“It’s really quite small and there is no backyard or front yard for the kids to get outside and to run around – it’s hard to keep children really quiet if they’re locked inside all day,” she said.

“This property is so important because we can fit bigger families and there is space for the children to play inside or outside depending on the weather.”

However, Ms Spark said despite the positive outcomes provided by the property, there was still a dire need for more affordable housing to meet the needs of vulnerable people in Mount Gambier.

Barry Maney Group general manager Shannon Wilson said the local business was proud to continue its strong support for ac.care.

“The Barry Maney Group has had a really long-standing relationship in supporting ac.care and all the good work they’ve done around the community for many, many years,” Mr Wilson said.

“The luncheon has been the biggest thing over the years with Barry Maney Group’s Barry Stafford heavily involved in that in recent times and Barry Maney before him.

“Barry Maney himself, who built the business we all get to work for, had been a wonderful community ambassador and we’ve really tried to keep his legacy running into the future.”

Mr Wilson said issues like homelessness and poverty were not always visible in the Mount Gambier community, with people also struggling to balance home budgets.

“It pulls at the heart strings when its families and small kids involved and struggling to integrate into the community through their school or sports or creating friendship groups,” he said.

“It is a really good thing to support locally because you don’t want those people forgotten about.”

Explaining how the donation was allocated, local CMV Group Staff Foundation representative Jason Peake said a submission was put to the foundation, which collects contributions from staff working at CMV Group sites during the pay cycle.

“That gets matched dollar for dollar by the CMV Group,” Mr Peake explained.

“At the moment we probably have over 400 staff that donate across the CMV Group so every little bit helps – we just try and give out as much as we can and give back.”

Ms Spark said the support of the Mount Gambier community was vital in increasing the impact of the Limestone Coast Homelessness Service.

“It’s really important that we continue to receive and increase that support so we can continue to deliver new projects like this one,” Ms Spark said.

“Without the support of Barry Maney Group and CMV staff we wouldn’t have the opportunity to have this property so we’re really grateful.”

LEGACY LIVES ON: ac.care homelessness and community services manager Trish Spark gratefully accepts a significant donation from the CMV Group Staff Foundation, which was presented by Barry Maney Group foundation representative Jason Peake and Barry Maney Group general manager Shannon Wilson.