Making a difference

Premier Australia Day Active Citizenship Award winner Tim Benson is the secretary of 55 Central, a group supporting homeless people. Picture: Marcus Whisson d414668
Premier Australia Day Active Citizenship Award winner Tim Benson is the secretary of 55 Central, a group supporting homeless people. Picture: Marcus Whisson d414668

The 55 Central secretary has worked with the Maylands organisation since 2010 supporting people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

Mr Benson said despite homelessness increasing, the government was starting to recognise the need to fund organisations such as 55 Central.

He said supporting people in need who wanted help was crucial in getting their lives on track.

‘The key is to teach the clients the way to improve their chances of employment, to manage their limited funds more effectively and to ensure that their physical and mental health is cared for on a day by day basis,’ Mr Benson said.

‘It is also about helping them re-establish themselves in the mainstream of society.’

Mr Benson said people who were homeless or at risk of becoming homeless often faced a number of challenges.

‘For example lack of funds ” it is hard to get a job when you have been unemployed for some time ” overcoming health, especially mental health, issues and lack of basic life skills,’ he said.

‘The other issue is that more and more people who are homeless want to stay that way, as it has far less pressures that the mainstream society has.’

Mr Benson said homelessness was a serious problem and that most people who were living rough would not choose that lifestyle if there was a better option.

‘The community needs to understand those people and recognise that they don’t want pity, or even hand-outs, what they need is help to change their situation,’ he said.

Bayswater’s Friends of Gobba Lake received the Premier’s Australia Day Active Citizenship Award for a community group.