App to Help the Homeless

Many people don’t realise that most people who are homeless have mobile phones. In fact, 95% of them do and 77% own smartphones with Wi-Fi access. This means the revolutionary app by Infoxchange has the potential to be life-changing for those without a home. The “Homeless Assist” project is developing a new mobile app that helps homeless people and those at risk of experiencing homelessness find food, shelter and other support services.

Recent statistics from a study on homelessness and mobile phone usage conducted by the University of Sydney and the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) found that mobile phone ownership by the homeless in Australia was even higher than the general population at 92 per cent. It also found that 67 per cent of homeless Australians use social media, and 69 per cent use phones to “access online information”.

It can be hard for the homeless to find their way around the service system with 1,200 specialist homelessness services available and over  300,000 health, welfare and support services around. Among these services, there are a small slice that welcome both homeless people and their pets. Making these services known to people who are experiencing homelessness with their pets will create more opportunities to break the cycle and receive support, for both owner and pet.

The app is a revolutionary idea, with the potential to improve the lives of 100,000 Australians and increase access to support services. This is especially so when you consider the specific requirements of people who are homeless and own animals. This would be an amazing step in the right direction to support the bond between homeless people and their pets. Hopefully, Infoxchange will recognise this opportunity and take the leap. It will also allow people working within the sector to help their clients while out and about.

The app has made Infoxchange one of the 10 finalists in the 2014 Australian Google Impact Challenge, which lets Australian non-profits harness technology to address social problems.

Infoxchange is placing valuable information into the hands of the homeless. It’s an innovative idea that can really impact homelessness and quality of life. And again, an amazing opportunity to share the information about shelters and services that welcome the homeless and their pets.

The Google Impact Challenge finalists can be viewed and voted for here.


What the iPhone queue can teach us about the homeless

Line for the iPhone 6

In await of the new iPhone’s recent release, crowds and crowds of people camped outside the Sydney Apple Store on George Street. It’s funny to think that on the same block on the corner of Market and George Street is a makeshift shelter for somebody without a place to call home.

On any given night in Australia, 105,000 people are homeless. So while many excited iPhone fans braved the cold weather and rugged up in blankets and tents for a night, thousands across the nation did too. And sadly they will continue to do so. Especially if they have animal companions and finding shelter is a far-off option.

It was Mission Australia that highlighted this unlikely connection. So they invited the people in that massive line to give a little something back, because if every single person waiting for an iPhone donated what they could, it would make a world of a difference to the less fortunate. Blankets, a can of food, an online donation – it all makes a difference.

For those lucky and dedicated people who lined up to be one of the first to get their hands on a new iPhone 6, it was a strange yet amazing opportunity to feel the struggle of the homeless.

Were you in line to snag one of the new iPhones? How was your experience camping on the Sydney streets for a night?

It’s a chance for all of us to be thankful for a place to call home and do our part for those without a place to stay. Here’s one way to start: donating to Mission Australia. Or even just saying hello and asking how someone is doing the next time you go past George Street. Every little action makes a difference.