Safe Shelter ACT

Due to the impacts of COVID-19, Safe Shelter operations have been suspended for the immediate future. Please visit our Facebook page for further updates. Anyone seeking emergency accommodation or support is encouraged to contact OneLink or other support services.

This website details what, when, and where Safe Shelter is. Our Facebook page is updated with further information throughout the year.

Safe Shelter operations suspended due to COVID-19

The Safe Shelter project is built on the concept of providing warm, safe, and secure shelter. The Safe Shelter coordinating committee acknowledges we do not possess the facilities or resources to effectively accommodate COVID-safe best practices (particularly social distancing) at this time.

The ACT Government's response to COVID-19 involved new funding for emergency accommodation for men and women. We continue to advocate for further expansion of these services, and are regularly assessing the need and ability for Safe Shelter to safely recommence operations. Information about reopening will be posted on this website and our Facebook page.

What is Safe Shelter?

Safe Shelter provides free, basic, warm, emergency overnight shelter for adult men who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. No referral, assessment, booking, or payment is required.

Safe Shelter operates under a nightly drop-in 'first come, first served' basis. The Shelter opens at different locations on a rotating basis, with volunteers offering guests warm drinks, social connection, toilet facilities, and somewhere safe to sleep or rest out of the cold. More information on times, locations, and what happens during the evening can be found further down this page.

All guests need to be respectful and contribute to an atmosphere of safety. To maintain the privacy of guests, visitors and other interested parties will not be welcomed into the Shelters.

As a combined churches and community project, Safe Shelter ACT receives no government funding and is entirely run and supported by volunteers.

When and where is Safe Shelter?

Safe Shelter opens during Canberra's colder months. We open at different locations on different nights of the week, which will be listed below when Safe Shelter reopens.

The Shelter opens for guests nightly at 7:00pm. Guests are welcomed into the Shelter up until 10:00pm or until the Shelter is at capacity, whichever comes first. All Shelters are within walking distance of support services in the inner north, and sit along Transport Canberra's Route 31.

What happens at Safe Shelter? (click to expand)

Between 7:00pm and 10:00pm, guests are welcomed into the Shelter by volunteers. After agreeing to the conditions for staying and settling into the Shelter, guests may choose to go straight to sleep, spend some time alone, watch TV, play chess or cards, have a warm drink, or enjoy the company of other guests and volunteers. 10:00pm is lights off and quiet time, with guests and volunteers spending the rest of the night sleeping or resting quietly in the church hall.

For safety reasons, the doors are kept locked throughout the evening and night, with guests welcomed at the door by volunteers. Guests can leave the property at any time during the night, but will not be welcomed back into the hall after 10:00pm or if the Shelter is at capacity. Guests must leave the property by 7:00am.

Safe Shelter is not able to provide meals, however guests are encouraged to use some of the nearby free meals services. On weekdays, the Early Morning Centre provides a free breakfast and drop-in professional support service/community hub. On weekends and public holidays, Safe Shelter's guests are provided with a voucher for breakfast from a nearly business, generously funded by the Mercy Association for the Underprivileged and McDonald's. The nearby Red Cross Canberra Roadhouse provides free evening meals on Sunday - Thursday (check linked website for daily service times), while Stasia's Soup Kitchen operates in Garema Place 12pm-5pm on Fridays. The VC-ACT has also collated a free meals guide and information on food pantries.

Safe Shelter is not a professional support service and cannot help with provide ongoing assistance and specialised support, such as referrals, interpersonal support, or finding accommodation. Please visit the Support Services page for more information on agencies that can.

The core idea behind Safe Shelter (click to expand)

Safe Shelter aims to reduce the immediate concern of being homeless or at risk of homelessness - where will I sleep tonight? - with the hope that somewhere warmer and safer than sleeping rough or sleeping somewhere unsafe, along with social connection, will provide the basis for a slightly better tomorrow. In the morning, guests are directed onto specialist services or businesses for breakfast, showers, laundry, and ongoing practical and interpersonal support.

Safe Shelter ACT is a combined churches and community project between St. Columba's Uniting Church Braddon, The Rotary Club of Canberra, and All Saints Anglican Church Ainslie, with support provided by hundreds of volunteers and numerous services throughout the ACT. The service provided by Safe Shelter ACT is non-denominational. Safe Shelter ACT receives no government funding and is entirely run and supported by volunteers.

Our thanks go to the people and services who have made Safe Shelter possible.