Stepping Up to end homelessness

“Thank you for your support and for not rushing me. I often feel judged when I seek help, but you have given me respect.

Step Up is an initiative run from St Kilda Gatehouse Drop In which is centrally located in St Kilda. Step Up provides women (including non-binary and trans) aged 18+ reliant on street sex work and experiencing chronic homelessness with direct referrals to specialised housing, health and legal supports ensuring they have the best chance of ‘stepping up’ into safe, secure housing.

Step Up is creating pathways for women to exit the cycle of homelessness. Specifically, they

  • Provide quality, trauma-informed and relational support which increases a woman’s chance of securing housing, especially those reliant on street sex work.
  • Offer access to a safe space of belonging and connection and the various services and programs run from the Drop In centre (Monday- Friday). No appointment necessary.
  • Enable referral pathways to primary housing, community and health services supporting women address complex needs and improve wellbeing.
  • Help to reduce the short and long-term health and socio-economic impacts that homelessness has on the life of a woman.

Halfway through the project,

  • 20 chronically homeless women are currently being supported by the service, with each woman being individually supported to help end her experience of homelessness.
  • Twelve women are currently sleeping rough, in squats, hostels or couch surfing.
  • Six women have been linked to housing
  • Another has moved into temporary accommodation and another woman assisted in reconnecting with family.

In addition, the team has delivered information workshops to two local community groups. These workshops are designed to addressed issues involved with homelessness, challenge participants to think about stereotypes and provide opportunities for participants to be part of the solution. Both groups provided positive feedback from their experience.

Since the lockdowns of COVID-19, visits across St Kilda Gatehouse services have increased by 35%, the demand for material aid has jumped 22% and there has been a 79% increase in referrals, mentoring, advocacy, and educational sessions. Since July 2022, the number of visits to the Drop In has steadily increased and more women are ‘visibly’ experiencing homelessness. As a result, the demand for housing assistance continues to rise.

The project is due to finish in June 2023.