By Alex Dalziel
A mobile doctor service that provides free healthcare to homeless people living on the streets of the CBD will be expanded under a new investment from the City of Melbourne.
Cohealth’s street doctor mobile bus clinic, which previously only operated on Wednesdays, will now also operate on Mondays.
The service provides a dedicated GP, nurse and social worker who provide free health, mental health and drug counselling.
Last month, Lord Mayor Sally Capp announced the City of Melbourne had invested $200,000 in the project.
“The mobile bus clinic will provide services direct to rough sleepers where they’re needed,” the Lord Mayor said.
“When a patient steps onto the bus they can speak directly to a doctor and access free services such as flu shots, treatment for wounds or urgent mental health referrals.”
Cohealth interim chief executive Nicole Bartholomeusz said that Cohealth had long advocated for better healthcare for vulnerable people.
“Rough sleeping creates serious health problems, and yet people who are homeless have less access to health services than the rest of the community,” she said.
“Stigma and discrimination is a barrier to accessing health services. People who are homeless also struggle to afford medical care and to travel to appointments and may find it difficult to maintain treatment regimes.”
The Lord Mayor also launched a Handbook for grassroots organisations that will guide volunteer groups assisting the homeless.
The handbook was developed in consultation with people who had experienced homelessness, volunteer organisations and other grassroots groups.
The book provides a framework for volunteer groups to implement best practice approaches to services like the provision of meals, clothing, bedding and haircuts, as well as larger operations like shower and laundry facilities.
Policy and procedure advice, templates and links to online training resources are also included.
“We’re so grateful for the many ways that individuals and grassroots groups seek to help and support people sleeping rough in our city,” the Lord Mayor said.
“The handbook aims to facilitate better coordination and support among individuals, grassroots groups and charities that provide services and support of rough sleepers to achieve more positive outcomes.”