NEWS

The Handy Guide Is The Mobile App Helping Homeless Women

It is hoped that the expanding Brisbane guide could spread Australia-wide.

23/02/2017 3:30 PM AEDT | Updated 24/02/2017 8:45 AM AEDT
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The Handy Guide provides homeless women in Queensland with information on vital services.

The Lady Musgrave Trust, a Queensland charity, has received much-needed funding for the further development and launch of its mobile website application, The Handy Guide.

The digitisation of the hard-copy guide aims to connect homeless women in Queensland with vital services and information, such as sheltered accommodation support and legal services, according to The Trust's CEO, Karen Lyon Reid.

"We identified an opportunity to put this into a map-based format because everyone is moving into the digital age," Reid told The Huffington Post Australia.

"We are [now] able to get the tool to more women and also spread it much further across Queensland. Now our entire guide will be Queensland wide, whereas it used to be only Brisbane-wide.

"By a couple of clicks through the app you can source, in your local area, what you need and where it is -- practical information."

At this stage, the online version of the guide only gives users services available in Brisbane, however it is planned that from April it will cover regional areas in Queensland including Cairns, Townsville, Ipswich and Toowoomba.

The Lady Musgrave Trust
The mobile app provides users with an interactive map, with essential services pinpointed.

Providing the mobile guide is yet another step in helping young homeless women gain greater access to vital support services.

The public's misunderstanding of homelessness as being purely poverty driven can lead to misconceptions about homeless people's access to mobile phones and technology, according to Reid. Seventy-seven percent of the estimated one in 200 homeless Australians own (or have access to) a smartphone, studies from the University of Sydney show.

"You can use [the app] on your phone, tablet or computer -- this brings flexibility to all kinds of devices that people are familiar with," she said.

"We still have the hard-copy product, but what we are trying to do with this product is about user-friendly information. This is not just for homeless women, this is also for all of the service providers so they can see how they can connect with other service providers and create a solution for a person they are trying to assist."

It is hoped by Reid, who is a firm believer that information is power, that the expansion of the guide online will empower women who may find themselves in need of help.

"So many women are dealing in isolation with their own circumstances, some of them are ashamed to talk about it and to be able to access this information [will] gather some courage," she said.



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