Health & Fitness

Safe Sleep for Australia’s Homeless Community

September 14, 2016   By Jennifer Cook

How many homeless people are in Australia?

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Wellness or AIHW, on any given night across Australia, 116,000 people are struggling with homelessness. Of these, approximately 8,200 are roughly sleeping.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics likewise paints a not-so-pretty picture in its annual reports.

This means that each night, thousands of adults and young people sleep on our streets in dangerous conditions, battling the elements and potential health hazards such as substance dependency, violence and mental illness.

Whether rough sleepers or under the care of specialist homelessness services providing temporary accommodations, people without their homes still struggle with physical and mental health risks, like anxiety and even the ongoing global pandemic.

So what can be done to limit the existing risks of homelessness and rough sleeping?

Sleep Bus

Simon Rowe is the founder of the SleepBus phenomenon. Simon has created a pilot bus that has 22 beds and also features pet kennels, storage lockers and toilets. An overnight caretaker and security guard will operate each bus.

The idea came to Simon when he saw a homeless man on the steps of a bank in Balaclava, Melbourne, which affected him on a personal level as he reflected on his own experience with homelessness in 1993.

From there, Simon directed his energy towards efforts to provide a safe place for the downtrodden while fundraising and looking for more ways to mitigate or end homelessness.

What did we do?

One evening when scrolling through Facebook, the co-founders of Ecosa came across Simons SleepBus GoFundMe campaign and were inspired by his initiative and became instantly keen to help.

At Ecosa, we pride ourselves on providing people with an amazing night’s sleep atop our expertly designed mattresses. Ecosa offers a 100-night free trial to our customers; customers who are unhappy with the comfort of our product can return their mattresses for a full refund.

We pride ourselves on the fact that each return is donated to a local charity, and we have a solid relationship with The Salvation Army both in Australia and New Zealand. Unfortunately for those in need, working with just our return stock did not allow us to help a large number of people in crisis.

This is why Ecosa has decided to partner with SleepBus and provide mattresses for every sleep pod on every bus that will be manufactured. With the pilot bus soon on the road we will have the opportunity to help at least 22 homeless people per night.

That is 8,030 safe sleeps per year. To reach Simon’s goal of having 0 people sleeping rough on Australian streets, we will need 319 buses. Our goal of 319 buses will allow us to assist Australia’s homeless to have 2,328,700 safe sleeps each year.

Ecosa is on a mission to help Australia beat homelessness. Giving back to the community makes us proud of what we do at Ecosa- After all, a good night’s sleep could be the beginning of the path to a better life.

We believe that safe sleeping is a human right that should be available to everyone wherever they may be. However, the available census of population and housing shows there are still lots of things to be done. That doesn’t mean we’ll be resting on our laurels. On the contrary, we need to do more.

What More Can We Do?

Homelessness and poverty aren’t problems that can be eradicated overnight. That said, that’s no excuse for doing our darndest to make a dent. Ditto for other complications such a problem often entails, like hunger, domestic violence, and decline in employment.

One possible avenue to look at is identifying possible and common causes of homelessness.

According to one source, the leading catalysts for homelessness are unemployment, poverty, and other economic problems that often snowball into declining numbers of affordable housing, increased prevalence of family violence and domestic abuse. All these circumstances often force people into a life spent on the streets.

Some are lucky if they can do a spot of couch surfing with friends or other relatives, but others don’t have such luxury.

That’s why support services are pushing for more accessible boarding houses and increased numbers of crisis accommodations or places where at-risk individuals like the homeless and victims of elder abuse. You can check this link for more information if you’re in NSW.

We can also look into increasing jobs and opportunities so people can stand on their own feet without fear of having to sleep on the streets.

Any great endeavour starts with little steps. Concerted and widespread participation, effort from all of us, and a sincere desire to help go a long way in minimising the effects of homelessness. Let’s do this!

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