Rob – Homeless shelter worker

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How did you come to work in the homeless shelter?
I’ve been doing it pretty much all my life. I did a youth-work diploma and after I working with youths for some time I started working with adults. It’s been pretty much homelessness my whole life.
Besides the obvious food and shelter, what do you find that the homeless need more than anything?
It’s connection to community. You can have the four walls of a house but not be connected to community which can be really isolating for a lot of homeless people. I think that is what they long for most.
What’s the worst thing you’ve had to deal with?
There is a degree of violence and that’s never easy to deal with. There are some angry people out there because of their life experiences. You’ve got to be a little bit hardened, accept that these guys are going to fly off the handle now and again. You’ll cop a bit of abuse…Yeah. 9 times out of 10 these guys will apologise afterwards. You can’t excuse bad behaviour but… You can draw a line and show them what’s not acceptable.
Have you seen many people turn it all around and go from the street to having a fully functional existence in the community?
Oh yeah absolutely. Probably as many as don’t which is reassuring for us that we are doing something good.
What’s the best thing about working with the homeless?
Seeing someone get long-term housing placement is the best feeling. It’s rewarding. It’s a good job. It can be draining but… Rewarding. I try not to take it home too much but it does get under you skin a bit. My normal is different to a lot of other people’s normal. At the end of the day it’s a job. It pays my bills. This is my trade, I am trained to do it and, all in all, I love it.
Melbourne quick q&a
Favourite cafe:
3 little Monkeys in Centre place
Favourite restaurant:
The Cavity in Venus Bay
Favourite bar:
Lustre Bar in Centre Place:
Favourite thing to do in Melbourne:
Drinking coffee, hanging out, reading a book… People watching.
Hidden gemĀ  in Melbourne?
The Potter Gallery in Fed Square. It’s not hidden but it’s full of treasure!

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