Ipswich Housing and Support Services CEO Mohamed Mustapha.
Ipswich Housing and Support Services CEO Mohamed Mustapha. Rob Williams

Support service boss calls for city's best to work together

IF WORKING with people battling to keep a roof over their heads has taught Mohamed Mustapha anything, it would be that love trumps money any day of the week.

The CEO of Ipswich Housing and Support Services and his six staff deal with a daily influx of ordinary people dealing with the most pressing of issues.

From long-term unemployment, the drug and alcohol addiction, domestic violence and incarceration, all their issues have the potential to lead to one thing - homelessness.

As part of the QT and IHSSI's Hand Up campaign, Mr Mustapha will be calling on the people of Ipswich to shift their attitudes towards the battlers among us, and do what they can to help.

"They say the general population in Australia is only three pay checks away from homelessness," he said.

"It can all happen very quickly. Sometimes it just takes something as common as a relationship break down, and you don't have two incomes to cover the bills any more.

"Someone might get sick, then the car breaks down and you use your rent money to fix the car. These are problems that we all run into, but while some people have the ability to pay their way out of these situations, some people don't. They find themselves trapped."

IHSSI assists thousands of Ipswich people each year. More than 900 people each year utilise the financial assistance program alone.

The Booval office also helps refer people to other services.

The number of people requiring assistance has increased with Ipswich's population. Mr Mustapha said there had been an influx of people from lower socio-economic backgrounds moving to Ipswich due to house prices increasing across Brisbane and Logan. Mr Mustapha said the biggest battle was in trying to change the public's perception of people battling to stay off the street.

"The only thing I think can make a real difference is collaboration with people who are willing to give a person another go," he said.

"We see former prisoners who cannot get a job because of trust issues and the stigma around them.

"You see third generation unemployed people who don't know how to present themselves for a job interview. The big question is how do you break that cycle?

"You could throw $10,000 at us but that doesn't make much of a difference compared to someone coming along and saying they'll give five people the chance to do some work experience, for example."

Mr Mustapha said the idea of calling for collaboration came to him after he noticed how much people across the board in this city support one another in times of need.

"In Australia we use the word 'mate' a lot, but where is that mateship?" he said.

"In Ipswich, I have seen that even the more wealthy people seem to be concerned with the welfare of the less fortunate in the community."

Readers who would like to be involved can phone Mohamed Mustapha directly on 0417 197 558

Ipswich Housing and Support snapshot

Support provided in 2016-17 financial year

Total clients: 750

Emergency relief cases: 985

Food relief costs: $76,932

Rent relief costs: $17,085

Phone bill relief: $7,465

Housing service demand

2015-16: 603 cases

2016-17: 648 cases

Single mothers and children affected by domestic violence form the largest single group of people requesting assistance for emergency housing

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