Homelessness in Australia is largely hidden in plain sight, and may be closer to us than we think.
This National Homelessness Week (August 7 to 13), 96five is partnering with Mission Australia to shed light on the issue in our country, which sees more than 122,000 people experiencing homelessness every night.
Relatively few people are “sleeping rough”; the vast majority (94 per cent) are living in temporary accommodation, staying in refuges, living out of their car, or couch-surfing while they try to get back on their feet.
One 96five team member has had his own experience with homelessness. Luke Holt, co-host of Luke and Susie, says that he was once a part of the 94 per cent, without knowing it at the time.
“I can honestly say I was homeless on my 23rd birthday, sitting in the Fairfield train station in Sydney with no money, nowhere to go, and no solutions – no options” Luke said.
His situation started to turn around after he was shown generosity from “complete strangers” – the parents of his sister’s internet boyfriend.
“A phone call to a phone call to a phone call had them come and pick me up from the train station and put me up in their home over Christmas time for months and months, and [they] just helped me get back on my feet.”
Luke encourages us to have compassion on people in homelessness situations, despite the stigma that often comes with the circumstances.
“Compassion at the center for each and every one of us regardless of what we would define as good or bad choices” Luke Holt from the Luke and Susie Show
“The research has shown, we lose a bit of compassion when we think about homelessness because we just assume drug addiction, we assume bad choices – the stigma assumes all these things, which stops us from seeing it, understanding it, and reaching out to be that generous person [to help someone get back on track].”
“Sometimes it’s not that we make good or bad choices it’s that we have good or bad choices. Compassion at the center for each and every one of us regardless of what we would define as good or bad choices.”
Visit the website to learn more about what hidden homelessness looks like in Australia and how you can partner with Mission Australia to end it.
Listen to the full story in the player above.