Our History

In 2009, the first Hunter Homeless Connect Day (HHCD) was coordinated by Centrelink's Community & Stakeholder Relationships Officer, Nicola Hirschhorn. In 2010, the Newcastle PCYC took on coordination, utilising the services of Alana Mondy, Cultural Events Coordinator. From 2011 to 2013, volunteer Phil Sergeant took on the leadership and overall coordination of the event.

At that time, the HHC Inc. Management Committee decided that returning to a model where HHCD was coordinated through an appropriate community service organisation, was key for the future of the event, and a proposal was put forward to Compass Housing Services to provide resources for coordination of the event. Compass accepted, and as part of the organisation's contribution to the community, Lucy Andrews, Housing Pathways Coordinator at Compass was then asked to take on the role, which she did for three consecutive years from 2014 to 2016. During this time, she built on the existing successful model and strengthened links with key services, streamlining the planning process to ensure the best possible outcomes were available to guests on the day. With a passion for social justice and working with people who were homeless or at risk of homelessness, she was driven to ensure the event offered guests as much opportunity as possible to seek the support and assistance they needed to facilitate change to their situation.

In 2017, the reigns were handed to Michelle Faithfull, Events & Community Relations Manager at Compass Housing who has since coordinated the event in two different venues. After meetings with the PCYC in early 2017, it was established that both organisations had outgrown each other in terms of space and available resources and increased numbers now attending the event. Michelle's first year of coordinating the event coincided with a new venue, the Newcastle Basketball Stadium at Broadmeadow. The event was moved once again in the following year due to construction happening at the basketball stadium.  In 2018, it was held at the Newcastle Showground Exhibition Centre, where over 1000 people attended, including service providers, volunteers and guests seeking access to services. This new venue has proven to be the most suitable to date, with lots of positive feedback, not only from guests, but service providers who were able to collaborate with each other, refer and connect people in need with the right services, all under the one roof.

2019 was the tenth anniversary of Hunter Homeless Connect Day and this year saw the largest attendance in the history of the event with over 2000 people on the ground. With it now established in a venue that is specifically set up for this type of event, the planning workgroup and management committee continue to refine the way it is delivered to ensure that it aligns with the organisation's mission, and that is to build an inclusive community with zero judgment. This mission has been further enhanced in 2019 with the roll out of the Connecting the Hunter program, which is an extension of the one day event that sees businesses in the community opening their doors to people experiencing homelessness, all year round.