Rocky's 600+ homeless people more than just stereotypes
HE'S ONE of Rockhampton's 656 homeless, but you wouldn't know it to look at him.
With a clean, tidy appearance and a tendency to keep his area in spotless condition, he doesn't fit the stereotypical image of homelessness.
The man is a regular at Rockhampton's Park Street Salvation Army centre, where many of the town's homeless come to seek refuge or enjoy a long-awaited meal.
Although many homeless people are a product of their financial or domestic issues, this man, who didn't want to be named for privacy reasons, is one of many who are choosing the street over a conventional living situation.
"He prefers his own space and can't live with anyone,” Central Queensland Salvation Army's Judy Dash said.
"There's a pattern happening.
"The major cause of homelessness happens one of two ways; people get themselves in financial circumstances and the other way is by choice.”
Ms Dash said due to the efforts of the Salvation Army to provide accommodation, food and access to financial advice, many people are choosing to remain homeless.
She said with many avenues for assistance, people lacked incentive to find work.
Another cause of homelessness according to Ms Dash is the issue of domestic violence, where many people are forced to flee unsafe situations.
Ms Dash said many teenagers were also choosing to leave home, and many of those had prior involvement with the system.
With the added pressures of high living expenses, Ms Dash said many people were struggling to "handle their money”.
"At the brunt of it, it comes come down to budgeting,” Ms Dash said.
"Not everyone smokes or drinks, some generally have too many kids or stuff they don't want to get rid of.
"We see some people about to lose everything, but they don't want to get rid of their stuff because they have to have the latest iPhone.”
People needing help often call the Salvation Army's Emergency Relief Assistance line 1300 371 288 which is constantly "smashed with calls”
"Homelessness can affect everyone,” Ms Dash said.
Ms Dash said since last year homelessness has increased in the region.
However, the Salvation Army's funding has decreased and has left many without help.
To Ms Dash, the issue of homelessness is too often stereotyped.
"It's one word but there's so many rivers and streams that fall into that one word and there's so many different effects,” she said.
"We've just started a program ... on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays we have $3 lunches.
"Homelessness has always been an issue so it's not going to go away.”
Ms Dash said in February there were 267 Central Queenslanders in the organisation's care. This information comes after the Australian Bureau of Statistics' 2016 data on homelessness.
The ABS' 2016 statement stated Australia had about 116,000 homeless people, which was a 14 per cent climb from the year before.