SHELTER for all in Bendigo is the new vision of a inter-church group providing people experiencing homelessness with a place to sleep.
Bendigo Winter Night Shelter offered people experiencing homelessness a bed, a hot meal, and dignity for the first time in 2019.
Fourteen churches opened their doors to accommodate the program.
Bendigo Winter Night Shelter chair-elect Terry Westaway said the vision might sound impossible, but the organisation knew it wouldn't be achieved by what it did on its own.
He said the shelter hoped to build partnerships with other organisations working with people in similar situations.
"Our purpose is for all the churches to work together with the community to continue to operate the shelter one a year by year basis," Mr Westaway said.
"We want to build relationships with other agencies that service in this area, and see what they've learnt about homelessness, and how they're contributing to that.
"We think one of our main roles is going to be an advocate for better services for the homeless."
Thirty-three people took up the offer of shelter over 92 nights during the Bendigo program.
Eleven of these guests are now in permanent or semi-permanent accommodation.
The organisation developed its vision for shelter for all while creating a strategic plan to 2025.
Taking stock of the program, the shelter formed a submission to the state parliament's Inquiry into Homelessness in Victoria.
Mr Westaway said Bendigo Winter Night Shelter had highlighted the importance of pastoral care given to guests over 92 nights in its submission.
"That presence is there all the time. They know they've got a place they can go to, they know they're going to get fed, they know they're going to be treated well," he said.
"You could see the transformation in people. They could sleep, they were well rested, they started to build some community."
Ms Westaway said Victorian parliament needed to change the housing act to reflect the current environment.
He said the federal government could improve the Newstart rate to better help people experiencing homelessness.
There also needed to be more social housing, he said.
Submissions to the Inquiry into Homelessness close on January 31. More at: bit.ly/2NB7Hw6
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