Perceptions of homelessness leaves women & children out in the cold

ASK a Victorian what a homeless person looks like, and they’ll most likely describe a middle-aged man with an alcohol or drug addiction. In reality, just under half of Australia’s homeless are female and almost a third are children, just one of the many misconceptions unearthed in a new survey from the St Vincent de Paul Society Victoria.

More than half of Victorians surveyed could not recall the last time they noticed a homeless person, despite there being more than 22,000 in Victoria each night.

The survey comes as St Vincent de Paul Society Victoria calls on business and community leaders to challenge themselves to one chilly night in a sleeping bag at the 2015 Vinnies CEO Sleepout.

VincentCare Chief Executive John Blewonski said public perceptions are not keeping up with the reality of homelessness, who is affected by it and the causes.

“We are seeing that the stereotypical image of who a homeless person is – a drug or alcohol addict on the footpath in the CBD – still persists,” Blewonski said. “But the reality is that homelessness is much broader than this, and includes anyone living in unsafe or insecure housing, such as boarding houses or shelters, and sadly due to domestic violence this includes a lot of women and children.”

“We also know that many people see homelessness as overwhelmingly a government problem. While the government should play its part, it’s really up to all of us to help out in any little ways we can.

“The CEO Sleepout offers business leaders a small glimpse into life on the streets and helps raise vital funds for the Society’s homelessness services across Victoria,” he said.

Gretel Packer, Crown Resorts Foundation Advisory Board Chair, has signed up to take part in the Vinnies CEO Sleepout in Melbourne for her first year, one of the 109 leaders that have already signed up to the Victorian Sleepout in 2015.

“Homelessness is an issue that affects the lives of too many Australians, particularly families, women and young people. There are many outstanding community, charitable and medical organisations working extremely hard to help reduce homelessness and all of us can play a part by supporting them.”

The 2015 Vinnies CEO Sleepout will be held on Thursday 18 June at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. Leaders from Webjet, State Trustees, Patties Foods and Austereo are just some of the business and community leaders signed up to this year’s CEO Sleepout.

To register, nominate or sponsor a CEO, or for more information, visit www.ceosleepout.org.au. For details on organising a school or community Sleepout visit http://vinniessleepout.gofundraise.com.au/

Source: Vinnies Victoria

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Ryan Fritz

Ryan Fritz started The Advocate in 2014 to provide not-for-profits and charities another media platform to tell their worthwhile hard news stories and opinion pieces effortlessly. In 2020, Ryan formed a team of volunteer journalists to help spread even more high-quality stories from the third sector. He also has over 10 years experience as a media and communications professional for not-for-profits and charities.

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