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Homelessness: How Can We Help?

By By Ashley Racers

Most of us, when we see someone who’s homeless, we avoid eye contact, look down and walk quickly past them. We sometimes feel a pang of sympathy, however we don’t like to face the facts and realise how fortunate we are and how these people need our help. And generally, we don’t like to give up a few precious seconds to actually help them. Sometimes, someone will donate a couple dollars to them and be on their way, their good deed done for the day.

Photo by Sri Harsha Gera

There are currently over 116,427 homeless people in Australia and over 37,000 of them are located in New South Wales. 25% are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander (even though they make up 3% of the population) and 30% were born overseas. Not only are these statistics shocking, they’re getting worse each year and people need to start taking action.

Image: Council to Homeless Persons

The Australian Bureau of Statistics defines someone as homeless if their current living arrangement:is in a dwelling that is inadequate; or has no tenure, or if their initial tenure is short and not extendable; or does not allow them to have control of or access to space for social relations.

But why should you care about homeless people? After all, aren’t they just people with an alcohol or drug addiction who’ll use your money to buy MORE drugs and alcohol?

Needless to say, this public perception of homeless people is very far from the truth. There are many factors that can lead to homelessness including domestic and family violence, housing affordability, poverty, mental illness and many other factors. A quarter of people seeking accommodation at specialist homelessness services are there because of domestic and family violence. Homelessness affects everyone and in fact, children under the age of 18 (so someone who’s just like you) make up 27% of people experiencing homelessness.

Despite inefficient national policies to reduce homelessness, all around Australia there are charities and non-profits determined to better the situation of homeless people. Some of Australia’s biggest and most successful organisations include Homelessness Australia, Mission Australia and StreetSmart Australia.

Recently a non-profit organisation has been founded by two Caringbah High school students called ‘Give Them A Chance’. Liv Coxsedge and Rachel Sayers are two year eight students who have put effort into creating a way for high school students around Sydney to lend a hand to the homeless. Their organisation creates and distribute care packages to the homeless people of Sydney city. These care packages include basic resources and products that may be difficult for homeless people to obtain such as toothbrushes and paste, soap, feminine hygiene products and plenty of other basic supplies.

It’s common to see homeless people around the streets of Sydney city and those of us with a social conscience are inclined to do something about it, which is exactly what Give Them A Chance is trying to achieve. So how can you help? There are a thousand ways in which we can all lend a hand to the homeless people of Australia. Some of which include donating, whether it be Go Fund Me or via a charity, volunteering in Salvation Army/Vinnies stores or at charity events or helping raise money by contacting organisations and asking how you can help.

Another very simple way is by changing your attitudes towards homeless people. Instead of looking at them in disgust or wondering why they don’t just ‘stop buying drugs’, try and be more empathetic, and realise just how lucky you are.

All of us who live in a safe, stable place and regularly have food on our tables are extremely lucky. We have no idea how difficult it would be to be in a homeless person’s situation and all of us with any hint of a social conscience should act to help them in any way possible. No matter how small that action may be.

* The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the Woke magazine.


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