The Limestone Coast Support Homeless People Luncheon has been postponed due to ongoing uncertainty around public events as a result of COVID-19.
Luncheon Committee Chairman Barry Stafford said the decision had been tough to make.
“With uncertainty remaining, particularly with state border closures over recent months, we have made the tough decision to postpone the Limestone Coast Support Homeless People Luncheon until 2022,” he said.
“The event was postponed in 2020 with hopes it could be held early this year, however restrictions remaining in place for hospitality venues and public gatherings, together with ongoing uncertainty around the coronavirus situation, have led our committee to decide it would not be appropriate to proceed with planning at this time.”
Mr Stafford said the event remained sold out with 500 bookings carried over to 2022, with a date still to be set for what is one of the region’s largest charity events and a key business networking occasion for the Limestone Coast.
“Everything that makes this event so special will remain the same, including our keynote speaker Melanie Cooper OAM, emcee Rupert McCall AM and the interstate tables committing to return,” he said.
“The only change is the date, which is still to be set for early in 2022, but hopefully returning to an April event similar to past years.”
Bookings for the luncheon, initially planned for 2020, will remain valid for the 2022 function.
The first luncheon was held in 2012 and was spearheaded by the late philanthropist Barry Maney OAM and Mr Stafford, who was Barry Maney Group dealer principal at the time.
When they learnt of the work of local non-profit agency ac.care to support people experiencing or at risk of homelessness in the region, they wanted to create an event to raise awareness and funds to help.
Held every two years and with the amount raised growing each time, the 2020 event was to be the fourth luncheon and Mr Stafford praised businesses and supporters who continued to make the fundraiser a success.
“On behalf of my committee, I thank the management of The Barn Palais, our speaker Melanie Cooper OAM, emcee Rupert McCall AM, our sponsors and the businesses who have purchased tables, provided auction and raffle donations for their understanding and support,” Mr Stafford said.
ac.care chief executive officer Shane Maddocks said he understood the decision to postpone the Limestone Coast Support Homeless People Luncheon until 2022, which effectively meant one cycle of the valued biennial fundraiser would now be missed.
He said the previous event in 2018 raised $125,000, which provided a significant boost for ac.care and was grateful for the community support.
However, Mr Maddocks highlighted the agency had faced a spike in demand over recent months, which was expected to intensify.
“A lack of affordable housing in regional areas, coupled with the winding back of coronavirus supplements for people on JobSeeker, which will be cut further at the end of March, has led to more people in need of our services to maintain tenancies and avoid homelessness,” Mr Maddocks said.
Mr Maddocks said that trend could intensify further when the JobKeeper package is wound back by the Federal Government.
“Most of our services are government funded, however fundraising delivered through events such as the luncheon allow us to extend our impact, particularly in helping vulnerable people to overcome or avoid a crisis,” he said.
“The luncheon has delivered a significant boost to our funding in the past so that we could do more to help country people and while we understand this event has had to be postponed, like so many others due to COVID-19, we are calling on the community to support their local charity at this challenging time.
“It is easy to make a one-off or ongoing donation via our website and we truly value those who choose to back our mission, contributing to our cause so we can do more together to help people in their community.”
Although the luncheon has been postponed until 2022, the community can continue to support the work of ac.care in the meantime by making a one-off donation or becoming a regular donor at accare.org.au/donate.