Students Learn More About Homelessness
“Simulating what its like to sit outside in the cold, having a small cup of soup for dinner seems more like a novelty for us Santa Maria girls, but its gives us a different perspective and greater empathy for these people”. Ella Douglas, Year 12
Members of the co-curricular group Young Vinnies learnt more about the plight of homeless people last week, during their annual Homelessness Evening. Students from Years 10 – 12, participated in the evening, sharing a dinner consisting of soup the girls had made themselves and bread. The girls heard from guest speaker, Colin Krause from the St Vincent de Paul Society, who opened their eyes to the problems experienced by the homeless in our society.
We asked students, Hannah Gunning (Year 10), Kate Miller (Year 11) and Ella Douglas (Year 12) about their experiences.
Why did you choose to be involved in the Homelessness Evening?
Hannah: I chose to be involved as I believe that homelessness is a major issue in our society, that we often don’t think about. As a society, we are often unaware of the truth about homelessness and the lives that these people live. I think it is important that we are made aware of these issues and try to make an impact on the lives of the homeless in any way we can.
Kate: I chose to be involved in the Homelessness Evening as I wanted to develop my knowledge of homelessness, including the causes and effects.
Ella: Homelessness in Australia is somewhat of a hidden issue, however, 116,000 people experience homelessness every night. I chose to be involved with the evening to gain a deeper understanding of the issue that is so prevalent in our society; to learn about the journey that many people have taken to get to this place of continuous hardship and struggles on the street.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing homeless people and how can we help?
Hannah: Not having access to necessities we often have easy access to. Things such as health care, education, housing, clean water, food, and for women, sanitary items. We can help not only by making more people aware of how these people are suffering but also by going out and helping. Providing these people with clean water, nutritious food and sanitary items.
Kate: The Oasis, suggests that one of the biggest challenges facing homeless people is their traumatic upbringings. The film showed that many homeless people came from homes that were abusive, neglectful or they had parents who were drug users. With such an upbringing it is extremely difficult to move into a successful future. We can help by developing our understanding and empathy of what some homeless people have been through.
Ella: One of the biggest challenges with those facing homelessness is the issue of mental illnesses. Throughout the night, there was emphasis on the journey that brings people to a state of being where they turn to drugs and alcohol as a means of coping with the dangers and struggles of life on the streets. The best way to help with the nature of the issue of mental health is to show compassion and support to those homeless or at risk of being homeless; whether that be through personal contact or helping out services such as Passages Resource centre.
What activities did you do during the evening?
Hannah: We had a guest speaker from Passages, who did an activity that reminded us of how fortunate we are. We created a list of everything we used each morning before narrowing it down to three items. This made us all aware of how we take so much of what we have for granted. We had soup outside under the jacaranda tree before going back to watch the film ‘The Oasis’ that showed us the realities of what it is like to be living as a young homeless person and how difficult it is. We finished off the night writing prayers and sharing them. We prayed for the safety of those suffering and thanked God for all that we have.
What was the experience like?
Kate: The Homelessness evening was very informative. The question and answer session with the guest speaker from Passages, provided answers to some fascinating questions and the film The Oasis was unlike any video on homelessness I have seen. My knowledge of homelessness has grown along with a new perspective. My perspective on the causes of homelessness has shifted, as I now know the alarming effects of not having a loving childhood. The homeless evening allowed me to realise how grateful I am, having a loving and caring family.