The scrappling of rubbish from Melbourne’s outer suburbs has changed the life of homeless people in the city’s inner west, with some finding work.
The community, which was once largely unskilled and relied on the government’s support for its housing needs, has seen a surge in demand for recycling bins and other waste materials.
In the last year alone, more than 500 people have been hired to help haul recyclables from their homes to a scrapyard.
“It’s been incredible, really, seeing how much money we’ve been able to make, just from just being there and just helping the community out,” resident Rhea Sattar told the ABC.
Rhea says she has started a recycling business with her husband and two kids, and has seen her business grow from a single-room apartment to more than a dozen businesses across the city.
“My kids, they are all going into high school now, so they’re very keen on doing something, and I’m hoping that we’ll be able to support them through school,” she said.
“I’ve got a couple of other kids who are really interested in doing the same thing, but we’re still young, so I’m just trying to keep it all to myself.”
The Salvation Army has also welcomed the demand for waste recycling, and is looking to hire more people.
The agency has been involved in a successful pilot project in Melbourne’s west, where it has worked with residents to collect and deliver recycling bins to residents’ homes.
Salvation Army spokesperson Jennifer Breslin said the agency was also helping to provide free bins and help those in need collect and send the recyclable to a waste management centre.
“We’re not doing any of the hard work for the residents,” she told the Nine Network.
“They are being helped by the Salvation Army, and we are helping the residents.”
Salvation Army president Peter White said the community was in the middle of a transition period after decades of homelessness.
“The housing and the community are still very much on the front foot, and the Salvation Armys response to the community is the kind of support they need,” he said.
Salvation Armies support for the community, particularly in the inner west has been critical, as the local community is largely untrained and without adequate funding to provide services, Mr White said.
The Salvation Arm’s community engagement program, called “The Journey,” provides opportunities for residents to engage with the organisation and provide feedback about their experience.
Residents are also given advice on how to get their garbage to the recycling bins, and receive a free kit with the bins.
“Some residents have even taken to volunteering, which is really exciting, and that is really encouraging to see,” Mr White added.
“There’s a lot of potential out there for the people in this community, but I think the biggest challenge is for them to be able and willing to do what they’re being asked to do.”
The Journey program, run by the Community Development Association of Victoria, provides a framework for residents and community members to provide feedback and learn about the Salvation’s programs.
It is run by a small team of volunteers, including former volunteers, and runs from 6:00pm to 10:00am every weekday from May to September.
The program was launched in late August last year and has been instrumental in the development of the local homeless community.
“For us to be really successful, we have to get our people engaged, and if you don’t engage people then it just doesn’t work,” Mr Black said.