Over the past two weeks, personnel from Navy Headquarters Tasmania have been helping to paint rooms at Bethlehem House, a Hobart facility supporting homeless men.
Bethlehem House CEO, Patrick Carlisle, praised the generosity of the personnel involved saying that the neat presentation of the rooms “really made a difference”.
“When people come to us for help, it raises their expectations to walk into a facility that is pristine and well-presented,” Mr Carlisle said.
“It lifts the spirits of our residents, helps make them feel better and hopefully helps put them back on track.”
Mr Carlisle said that Bethlehem House provided overnight accommodation for 30 homeless men with another eight being housed elsewhere in the community.
“We also provide a service for men ‘living rough’ to come in for a shower and a general spruce-up.
“We are a second-last resort for accommodation for these men - the last resort is living on the street.
“We don’t judge, we simply offer a hand,” he said.
A chilling statistic shared by Mr Carlisle is that the average age of death for homeless men in Tasmania is 47.49 years. Compared to the average age of death for men in Somalia is 48, this is a disturbing figure given that we live in a ‘first-world’ country.
“Small gestures like that being made today by the Navy team will go a long way to redressing this,” Mr Carlisle said.
A noticeable feature of Bethlehem House is the framed pictures of naval vessels that are used to decorate the passages and communal areas in the facility.
This is because Mr Carlisle is a self-confessed ‘Navy buff’ – an interest that started when his mother hosted Junior Recruits from the former Navy training base HMAS Leeuwin in Western Australia on their weekend leave.
“It started when her own brother, who was a Junior Recruit, brought home some of his mates.
“Our house became a ‘home-away-from-home’ for many interstate recruits over a 12-year period.”
Mr Carlisle also has a special interest in Corvettes as a member of his family served on HMAS Strahan during WWII and actually died aboard the ship while it was visiting the town of Strahan on Tasmania’s Macquarie Harbour on 20 November 1945.
HMAS Strahan (J363/M363) was built in the New South Wales state dockyard in Newcastle and was commissioned exactly 70 years ago on 14 March 1944. She was named for the Tasmanian west-coast town of Strahan, and was one of 60 Bathurst-class corvettes constructed during World War II.