Homelessness is a significant social issue throughout Australia affecting thousands of adults and children every year. A 2015 Annual Report from Homelessness Australia revealed that almost 256,000 people were struggling to get by due to homelessness, and the need for these people to access services continues to grow. Resources dedicated to helping people who are homeless, such as shelters, food banks, and counseling, are necessary to getting these people the support they need.
Fortunately, the Australian government has recognised the need to connect homeless people with services in order to help them live better lives. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has recently spoken at the Salvation Army in Melbourne about the launch of a new mobile website, Ask Izzy, connecting people to over 350,000 different services all over Australia. The website is well-organised and easy to follow, letting people search through categories like housing, food, health, counseling, finances, and education to find services dedicated to their needs.
Ask Izzy is the result of a collaboration between not-for-profit Infoxchange, Google, realestate.com/ae, and News Corp Australia. The goal of the mobile website is to gather all available resources that would be of use to those struggling with homelessness, in order to make it easier for them to access these resources.
Creating a mobile website for people who are homeless is a smart and practical decision, with a study by the University of Sydney showing over 80% of this population owning a smartphone in Sydney and Melbourne. By creating an opportunity for these individuals and families to be connected, Ask Izzy helps them feel less isolated and also enables them to learn about and utilise services they may not have been able to in the past.
Australia's state and federal governments continue to increase spending on specialised homelessness services, so resources such as Ask Izzy are important in allowing homeless people to learn about and use these services.
"The anonymous data [the website] collects over time will provide a better, clearer picture of where, when and how much demand there is for services. That enables people on the front line and it enables policy makers like myself to deliver better targeted and more impactful, practical services", says Turnbull.