Coast Shelter provided 75,009 overnight beds during 2018-19

Coast Shelter CEO, Rachel Willis

With more than 8,000 people remaining at risk of homelessness on the Central Coast, Coast Shelter Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Rachel Willis, is continuing to explore more opportunities for early preventative intervention during 2020.

In the organisation’s annual report for the 2018-2019 financial year, Willis outlined the highlights of her first full year as CEO, following the retirement in 2018 of former CEO and Coast Shelter founder, Laurie Maher, and presented her vision for the future.

“Over the past 13 months, the team and I have pondered what will be required of our organisation, this community and our society, to meet future demands on our services,” Willis said in her report.
“I know one thing for sure, we must continue to grow, to innovate and to test out new ideas.
“This will continue to require the support and collective investment of government at all levels.
“We will explore more opportunities for interventions early in life and early in need that address the issues that lead to homelessness.”
Willis said expanding pathways for people to re-engage in education and training would be key.

The report highlights that Coast Shelter provided 75,009 overnight beds in 10 crisis accommodation services and 76 outreach properties during 2018-19.
A total of 877 men, women, young people and children were accommodated (an increase of 70 over the previous year), with 73% of them under the age of 25.
There was an 11% increase in demand for crisis accommodation, with 62% of those seeking support prompted by family breakdown and or violence in the home.

Willis listed the five key highlights of the year as being: Improving ease of accessibility; streamlining internal systems and processes; securing Federal Government support and funding for the Love Bites program; the continued success of the shelter’s restaurant, Laurie’s Table; and, playing a strong role in advocacy and raising awareness of homelessness, housing affordability and domestic violence.

Coast Shelter President, Margaret Portass, highlighted the growth of the organisation from its inception 27 years ago, serving meals under a bridge.
The organisation now has a team of 85 staff and 250 volunteers, with its operations stretching from the Peninsula in the south to the far northern reaches of the region.

“During this financial year, Coast Shelter provided its one millionth bed-night to people in need on the Central Coast,” Portass said.
She said the year had been a “time of consolidation” with regard to structure, legislation, compliance, sustainability, quality, policy and financial management, and reinforced the organisation’s vision to end homelessness and domestic violence on the Central Coast.

Annual report, 2018-19 Coast Shelter