Each night in Australia 105,237 individuals are homeless. This means they do not have somewhere safe, secure or long term to call home. Of that number, 42% are under the age of 25 and considered ‘youth’ . On Sunday 22nd October, 7 Year 11 VCAL students were involved in a homeless simulation for 22 hours as part of their Community Issues Project.

The students involved were Mark Biggin, Zack Burns, Adam Gaudiano, Spencer Moulton, Brad Connaughton, Mat Reuter and Riley Edwards. We used the ECA as our ‘crisis accommodation’ for the night. Some slept on cardboard, created a shelter or even tried to sleep outside in the cold and wet. Overnight they endured the sounds of cars rushing by, trains, trams, people talking or arguing, doors slamming and a random man standing in the doorway when they woke (it was the cleaner). Their food was rationed, they had no mobile phones, some had more spending money than others and by the morning their moods were low. They carried their garbage bags with their belongings in it around the local area and completed small tasks, along with reflection time. One task involved them sitting in the yard at recess with a cardboard sign they had made to create awareness about the big issue of youth homelessness. Many found this very confronting and embarrassing, much like someone who is homeless would feel.

“Its boring and lonely and not much to do. You can’t have fun when you’re trying to survive” – Mat Reuter

“I could not do this every day. I think I would not enjoy life at all” – Zack Burns

“I get hungry way too often and I like to have big meals. I wouldn’t like to be alone for 1 week” – Adam Gaudiano

By the end of the 22 hours, the students were tired, frustrated and very keen to get their personals back and have a real feed. This project was undertaken to create awareness about how we as a society can make a change. A small ripple can create a big wave.

A big thank you to Mrs Roach and Mrs Davis who came along on the Sunday and helped with dinner at the ‘Soup Kitchen’. Also another thank you to Natasha Tough who came along on the Monday and spoke about mental health, housing, domestic violence and drug use within homeless communities.

Tracey Lackman
VCAL Assistant Coordinator

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