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Addressing homelessness in Australia

4 mins  27.09.2018
We are proud of our active involvement in addressing Australia's homelessness challenge. Our flagship pro bono initiative is our legal outreach service which assists homeless clients across Australia. However, this is not the full extent of our involvement with homelessness.

MinterEllison participates in the Business Alliance to End Homelessness, an initiative which continues to seek new, innovative solutions to this long-term social challenge. The Business Alliance takes a strategic view of what models work around the world, including social impact bonds and other forms of cross-sector collaboration.

When we talk about the power of collaboration, the Communities Plus initiative in Sydney is a stand-out example. We have worked with the NSW Land and Housing Corporation to increase the supply of social housing in new developments of under-utilised public land. The arrangement includes Mission Australia as manager of the social housing component of the overall development. In this way, all sectors – the public sector, the private sector and the 'third' sector – are making a joint contribution to help reduce homelessness in Australia. And the model is scalable – only magnifying the potential impact of this innovative housing solution.

With the introduction of Australia's National Disability Insurance Scheme, we have also contributed legal thinking to a new housing model for people living with a disability. We are proud of our contribution to the Supported Independent Living Co-operative (SILC), which acts as a hub to support families in establishing long-term, independent living arrangements for family members.

We are also proud of our contribution to the award-winning Homes for Homes fundraising model developed by The Big Issue, in partnership with private sector developers. Homes for Homes is designed to create a recurrent revenue stream for the reduction of homelessness in Australia through property transactions. Together with other law firms, MinterEllison advised on the establishment of this innovative fundraising model. Our connection with The Big Issue dates back to the Homeless World Cup soccer tournament in Melbourne in 2008, where we provided substantial pro bono legal advice, and the firm's leaders regularly taking part in The Big Issue's #CEOSelling initiative in Brisbane, Melbourne (see Melbourne Managing Partner Jeremy Blackshaw in action below) and Sydney (see the head of our Infrastructure, Construction & Property team Virginia Briggs in action below) over many years and our ongoing support for the Big Issue Women's Subscription Enterprise.

At the local level, we have long-term connections with each of the homelessness services where we deliver outreach clinics in Adelaide (Magdalene Centre), Brisbane (3rd Space), Melbourne (Central City Community Health) and Sydney (Haymarket Centre). We also provide legal support to a range of homelessness charities including Brisbane Youth Service, Father Chris Riley's Youth Off The Streets, Mission Australia, Marist 180 and the Lighthouse Foundation.
And, at the grassroots level, we have worked closely with the incredible team at StreetSmart to grow philanthropic support for local homeless charities that provide direct support to people in crisis. We have extended StreetSmart's reach through:

  • In Brisbane, Robert Reed serving on StreetSmart's allocations committee;
  • In Melbourne, sponsoring and attending StreetSmart's annual fundraising event over many years; and
  • In Sydney, our in-house café taking part in StreetSmart's annual CafeSmart initiative, and providing matching support for these campaigns.

Partnerships

At a local level, we have long-term connections with each of the homelessness services where we deliver outreach clinics and a range of homeless sector organisations including:

  • Central City Community Health (Melbourne)
  • Haymarket Centre (Sydney)
  • Magdalene Centre (Adelaide)
  • Brisbane Youth Service
  • Father Chris Riley's Youth Off The Streets
  • Mission Australia
  • Marist 180
  • Lighthouse Foundation

In relation to domestic and family violence, a leading cause of homelessness for women and children, we have close partnerships with:

Australia's CEO Challenge

As far back as 2005, our partnership with ACEOC was recognised with the Prime Minister's Award for Excellence in Community Business Partnerships (Queensland Large Business Category and national finalist). Most importantly, we are proud to be able to work alongside ACEOC to help create a world free of violence.

Darkness to Daylight Challenge

As noted above, MinterEllison provides practical to support to ACEOC for their annual fundraising event, the Darkness to Daylight Challenge. Robert Reed, head of Community Investment in our Brisbane office, is one of the principal founders of the Darkness to Daylight Challenge, which annually brings the community together for an overnight run to raise funds for ACEOC and to speak out against domestic and family violence. All staff are encouraged to participate and fundraise, and each year around 100 members of the Brisbane office run, walk or volunteer in the event. 

White Ribbon

We are proud to have senior people, including Anthony Lloyd and John Steven, as White Ribbon Ambassadors at MinterEllison.

We also continue to assist Domestic Violence Action Centre and Women's Legal Service through our Community Investment Program. In all these various ways, we collaborate with key players in the industry to ensure that ending homelessness remains a national priority.

This article featured in our 2018 Annual Report

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