Where would you go if you had to sleep rough? Would you sleep in a cemetery, a doorway, a drain, an abandoned building?

One of Daily Telegraph photographer Nick Welsh's pictures of the homeless in Sydney.

People who work with the homeless see and hear some amazing, dark stories – one of the oddest they tell is that desperate people have been known to sleep in cemeteries, even climbing into graves to find shelter and safety.

An Adelaide homeless man was found living in a drain a few years back – they worked out he’d been there for six years.

Last night was the Vinnies’ CEO Sleepout, a fantastic initiative where the nation’s rich and powerful step into the shoes of the nation’s poor and vulnerable for a night.

It’s a great exercise in empathy and awareness raising and I decided to take it to a somewhat illogical conclusion and do my own sleepout, which happily coincided with Adelaide’s wettest June day in six years.

Lessons learned: 1. It’s really hard to find a place outside that feels safe at night. 2. Concrete gets progressively harder as the night gets colder. 3. It’s really lonely. 4. An old, thin blanket does not cut it. 5. Sleeping out makes time slow to an imperceptible crawl. 6. Using the word ‘sleep’ in this context is misleading. 

Before hunkering down, I met up with some people who work with the homeless, walking past endless warm windows in the cold wind to help where they can.

The Aboriginal Sobriety Group runs the Mobile Assistance Patrol bus. They ferry Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people around from the streets to the services, from the city to relatives’ houses, from where they find them to wherever they can find a bed.

Major Sumner, a prominent Ngarrindjeri elder who is on the Group’s board, has seen generations of people follow each other onto the street and into the grog. He was one of them, once, 40 years ago, until the Group saved him.

He and MAP Bus program manager Nermin Sabanovic take me on a tour of the hot spots – the city squares, the parklands, the dark streets. They say they see kids as young as five hanging around, they see hungry children next to unconscious adults, they see plenty of violence – and the women can be worse than the men. 

On a Saturday night they can’t keep up with the people who need their help to get help - there is no more room at the various inns; the detox centres, the homeless shelters. The only option sometimes is to drop them at the hospital.

Homeless statistics are slippery. The 2006 found there were about 105,000 homeless Australians, with more than 16,000 of those were sleeping rough. They later revised this figure down by almost 40 per cent after a barney over definitions of homelessness. Result of last year’s Census will be out later this year. Most people I speak to think things are getting worse.

About one in three of the homeless are 18 or younger.

Mission Australia’s Youth Beat cover much of the same territory as the MAP Bus, but they work specifically with young people. Team Leader Shaun Stevens said young people – sometimes very young - are often drawn to the bright lights of the nightclub strips. They write themselves off, get drunk or high on whatever they can find, then lurk around in alleyways near the clubs they’re too young to get into.

Youth Beat work closely with Mission Australia’s sobering up unit at Hindmarsh, a small and friendly place that can give people a bed to straighten up in, and hopefully a gentle nudge in the right direction the next morning.

These workers are full of energy and banter, enthusiasm and graveyard humour. They all have their regular clients, their regular routes, and they see the same people come back again and again – and celebrate when some of them stop coming back because they’ve gained a foothold on life.

They work at the odd hours when most of us are unwinding, inside, bellies full of food, wine uncorked, maybe the electric blanket on. It’s the strange double life of the city, the invisible army helping the invisible vulnerable.

So, in some sort of misguided attempt at better understanding the other city, the one I don’t know, I spent the night roughing it (although my original plans were almost scotched by the OH&S people). In the end, I sleep in a plaza at the University of Adelaide (with their permission), a CBD spot where homeless people do occasionally try to sleep. As it happens I’ve slept on the uni lawns before, after a gig at the Unibar. A security guard points out an area where homeless people would sleep if they let them.

I thought a diary format would be an interesting way to describe sleeping out. It started out like this:

12.35am: Tried a few spots. Dirt soft but - unsurprisingly - dirty. Bench comfy but wet. End up in doorway. Have back against a building, the area’s well lit and sheltered. So tired I might actually sleep. This could be OK.

12.40am: This is not OK. I can feel every lump in the ground, my extremities are frozen, I’m wet from earlier in the night, and things are going bump in the night. People walk past every now and then and either they frighten me or I frighten them. This is going to be a long night.

1.40am: Still cold, awake, anxious.

2.40am: Still cold, awake, anxious.

Repeat ad infinitum. Wait for dawn.

6.00am: People are waking up cold and stiff in their corners of the city, to start the cycle again. Some will never break that cycle – many die homeless, cold and alone.

Meanwhile, I’m off to a bright, warm, clean office - and then, home.

Twitter: @ToryShepherd

Most commented


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    • thomas vesely says:

      07:41am | 24/06/12

      gather at the main railway station, go to sleep. do it in your hundreds…..
      force them to address the problem…

    • Robert Smissen of Rural SA says:

      01:09am | 23/06/12

      Nothing will happen, a few CEOs will feel virtuous but other than that Nothing. In 1987 a documentary was made called “Nobody’s Children” it received rave reviews & the film was sold, people used it to advance themselves, the street kids who spoke to the interviewers got nothing for being part of it, not even a Macca’s voucher, they were still in danger, still on the street, Labor PM Keating put up $120,000,000 which got spent on admin, sad but definitely not funny.

    • stephen says:

      07:47pm | 22/06/12

      I slept rough 6 weeks ago when I was turfed out of 1 Trackson street, Alderley.
      (I was offered ‘payback’ against the landlord by a couple of mates, but…‘nah mate, bedbugs would have got me out soon enough, anyway’) but when I went to the Salvos in Quarry street, I met many folk who had been outside for years, living anywhere they can find a place, and I even saw a chap I used to work with who had been since diagnosed ADFS, or ASET, or AOKN, or maybe something else, and he was kicked out of his flat because his landlord found some prescription drugs and assumed that he was an addict, (and don’t tell me that he should have approached the RTA - Residential Tenancy Authority, who, I’m sure, get their staff from the NSW Teacher’s Federation - , because I have, and tits on a bull is a compliment) ... so there are many kinds who are homeless, and many - very - are sober, responsible and respectable folk, (I didn’t get on with these at all) who are broke, divorced, but have great capacity for getting back into the mainstream.
      (I have been this way too, and I know a beautiful girl who has been there too.)

      All, however, have what I think is an unrealistic view of the world.
      The want what everyone else doesn’t : not a dog eat dog society which has as its elements members who are not cognizant of the whole, and who may not recognize their wants, but will not, however, directly make it harder for others - irrespective of talent or intelligence ! - but then, when it comes time for generosity or an Election, they make sure that only their desires are accounted for.

      It is true that most subjects of charity are getting off an addiction, or a marriage or violence, (same thing, I reckon) and that most have a poor education and want what they cannot have at the moment but have no way of knowing how to get it ... but isn’t it the point that another official, governmental and I’m afraid, a taxpayer step be re-introduced to such people, via, not a therapy but a mentoring procedure which is paid work for the mentor, and the community at large can finally take responsibility for the riches of life, as well as the penuries.

    • stephen says:

      07:39pm | 23/06/12

      Why don’t you try my syllogism too, Mr. Finger ?
      (Fifty bucks for you.)

      And by the way, I thought your girlfriend was Irish.

    • stephen says:

      10:13am | 23/06/12

      Yeah me old man says I been draggin me knuckles and should put a pen in’em, and as soon as I did once I came up with ... ‘is that a dagger I see before me ?!’

      What’ya think ?

    • Scotchfinger says:

      10:05pm | 22/06/12

      my friend, you should be putting pen to paper more often, you have talent. Good luck!

    • renold says:

      04:26pm | 22/06/12

      Well done T. Sheperd

    • Camille says:

      03:36pm | 22/06/12

      I recall telling a homeless client of mine that she would more than likely face winter inside Brisbane Womens Correctional Centre, her response “as long as i’m out by spring”.

    • Shane From Melbourne says:

      03:10pm | 22/06/12

      Just some advice:
      Crumple newspaper and and stuff it inside clothing to provide insulation.
      Never sleep in drains during winter due to possible flash flooding.

    • Gregg says:

      03:02pm | 22/06/12

      Maybe we ought to arrange a real trial Tory, for say a week or even a month to learn the lurks and perks of where to find the best cardboard boxes to assemble something of a concrete insulator and/or cover, buddying up and dumpster diving etc.
      How do you reckon you’d fare for a month without a dollar to your name?
      Could you hack it?

    • Gregg says:

      04:26pm | 25/06/12

      A late reply for you but better than none and no snippity meaning but merely the thought that a night nor even a week is much of a taste for what it’s be like hence the opening ” Maybe we ought to arrange a real trial “

      If you feel lost on that, so be it.
      No cats in this household and the hounds have a wonderful always harm free home.

    • Outinthecold says:

      03:25pm | 22/06/12

      Gregg, what is the point of this question? Someone who “walked a mile in my shoes”, then writes about it to bring the issue to light and you basically say. Pffft do more toots.

      If every Aussie adult spent that one cold night, I bet there would be more understanding and action.

      What was the purpose of your post? I am lost? Or was it just feeling a bit snippity and the cat was out of kicking distance? Can you please explain as I am genuinely curious as to what your intention or purpose was to take the time to write in?

    • lak says:

      02:58pm | 22/06/12

      Why children as young as 5 should suffer?????

    • Little Joe says:

      06:30pm | 22/06/12

      Because Labor chooses to help illegal immigrants first.

    • MD says:

      02:04pm | 22/06/12

      I’ve slept out on the streets plenty of times, granted I was pissed off my face but so are most of the homeless people I see, it wouldn’t be much of a change.

    • David C says:

      01:51pm | 22/06/12

      How many of the homeless we see in the streets today (and there are a lot more in Sydney than ever before) are due to changes in the approach to treating the mentally ill. In the old days we would institutionalise a lot of these people but changes have meant we release them in to society. I am not sure this approach is working for anybody

    • stephen says:

      08:55pm | 22/06/12

      The Mental Health Act was altered in I think 1999, where the least severe cases of ill-health were incorporated into the community and, as far as I know, it has been considered by professionals in government and elsewhere as a failure.
      In other words, the mentally ill have had no benefit from ordinary social contact, and I would think that the ordinary have had no benefit either.

    • Miles Heffernan says:

      01:47pm | 22/06/12

      Under 35 and offering suffering from mental health issues. Certainly displaced. Not exactly the best environment for rationally assessing alternatives. Leaving basic survival strategies such as finding the least offensive place to sleep.

      Glad the OH&S guys didn’t kill this story.

      If the written word is judged by the emotions it evokes, then this is up there with some of the best 800 words I’ve read in while. Brilliant T2.

    • david says:

      01:40pm | 22/06/12

      I spent a period of time living on the streets. In the cold weather I would keep moving at night and sleep during the day when it was warmer.

      If you leave your comfortable life and spend a night on the street the experience would obviously be shocking to the system. But if you spent some months or years doing it, the shock would dissipate as you grew accustomed to your new circumstance. It’s a bit like exercise…the first day is hard and you feel sore but after a few months you have hardened to the regime.

      Since that time my circumstances have improved, but I don’t feel any more or less happy, stressed, healthy or fulfilled. There are many who are ‘well off’ that also suffer with depression, loneliness and despair. Tory Maguire alludes to that in her story on aging.

    • JN says:

      06:32pm | 22/06/12

      I spent a few months on the street when I first went to Brisbane for university David. I ended up making a camp in an out of the way spot on the banks of the Brisbane River close to the university. I was fortunate in that I had a tent and sleeping bag. For food money I used to walk around a nearby golf course and collect lost golf balls late in the day which I would then sell to the proshop. I also ate a hell of a lot of Mangos and Bananas plus I used to raid the local houses for milk (they still put it out in glass bottles back then). It’s funny but I got used to it after a few weeks and I can’t say I was all that unhappy; but I was certainly glad when a room became available in a share house. To be honest I kind of planned to do it that way; I had actually planned to sleep in my car, but the spot I found on the banks was actually very pleasant compared to the back seat of the car. Really it was no different to what a lot of young travelling surfers or backpackers might do. If I was truly destitute and stuck on the street, I think I would probably slowly move north where the weather is a bit warmer. I’d also consider somewhere like the Sandy Straits or even the Kimberley. There is an old bloke up at the Straits I have seen on mnumerous occasions over the years who completely shuns all company. He has made a home on an old 14 ft Hobie Cat (I’m sure he found it abandoned somewhere) and seems to get by perfectly fine with a handline and a few crab pots (probably stole them ha ha). I worked on diamond exploration crews in many years ago in very remote parts of the Kimberley. We came across several guys up there living off the land. Most of them lived comparatively well.

    • Emma says:

      11:32am | 22/06/12

      It is not only finding a bed at night but food as well. I was very saddened when I read about companies such as airlines and railways that they throw away so much untouched food because they have to. I saw an interview with a spokesperson for German Railways and he said they would love to give the food away as it is perfectly fine, but they are not allowed to. They fear they get sued in case something happens. So as a result hundreds of meals get thrown out daily just because our society is too greedy.

    • Greg says:

      03:57pm | 22/06/12

      Having worked in supermarkets the amount of food that goes in the bin is staggering, we used to be able to box up all the cosmetically damaged items to donate but then all that changed and everything had to go in the bin.  Disgraceful

    • David C says:

      01:53pm | 22/06/12

      one council in the US has banned food donations to the homeless, they are worried about the elevated levels of salt in the food

    • bael says:

      01:40pm | 22/06/12

      When I worked for the homeless shelter up in Sydney the trick around this was that the owners of local businesses would put food out the back at a specific time for collection.
      However they put it in sealed boxes or bags near the dumpster so they can claim we just taking discarded food.
      It is the big companies that are hamstrung by current laws that could be altered by parliment.

    • Bitten says:

      01:14pm | 22/06/12

      Society is unreasonable Emma - in theory, giving away unused food to the needy should be the easiest thing in the world. In reality, our thoughtless judiciary and generations of spiteful petty plaintiffs encouraged by rabid lawyers to sue over a soggy biscuit or tripping over a piece of carpet have made it virtually impossible for any company to do this.

      The minute we became a litigious society, we began closing down the avenues of genuine interaction between each other. The mentality has necessarily become: “If I do something, I may get sued. If I do nothing, I can’t be sued.”

    • Perth Report says:

      11:20am | 22/06/12

      Cold morning for the homeless here in Perth
      2 degrees over night, only risen to 3 by 9:30 this morning.

    • Slouch Hat says:

      11:15am | 22/06/12

      Agree with Thatmosis - no need for me to write any more except to say Australia must revoke the archaic
      UNHCR Conventnion and have our own which says refugees must not come by boat - the money saved could house the homeless.

    • fml says:

      11:38am | 22/06/12

      The two are not mutually exclusive, we can do both, even if we did cut our refugee aid then you will get people eventually complaining about the homeless.

    • Dan Webster says:

      11:05am | 22/06/12

      Well done Tory for joining in on the sleep out.
      Great article too.
      A society is judged by how it treats it’s most vulnerable.
      We can all do better in that regard.

    • PhoenixGirl says:

      10:42am | 22/06/12

      Perhaps Tory, we can start an initiative that organises for the homless to be shuttled to an island near Christmas Island and then onto a boat to be picked up straight away (without papers of course).
      This is a tragedy and a disgrace as to how the Labor government treats its own versus its hand in promoting people smuggling and the many deaths associated to their policy.

    • Daniel says:

      06:02pm | 22/06/12

      Why not.
      Bring on the studies and take some action!

      I think you guys are wrong about the mental illness thing but if more information helps us find ways to help people then I totally agree.

      Don’t you think though, that a lot of drug and alcohol abuse originates from personal issues and is a form of self medication?

      I agree that personal responsibility is a valuable and missing concept in some peoples lives. I just can’t see that large of a percentage of homeless peoples problems started with decadence.

    • Admiral Ackbar says:

      05:41pm | 22/06/12

      Oh I’m with you on all of that, and certainly not disagreeing with your opinion in general. I absolutely agree that we should not pay for other peoples life choices, and this goes for more than just drinking, drugs, or someones decision to come here via a leaky boat. I think Maybe has pretty much summed it up better than I could.

    • Bitten says:

      03:05pm | 22/06/12

      @James1: +1

    • AdamC says:

      02:53pm | 22/06/12

      James1, reading your perspective on these sorts of issues is always an eye-opening delight. The way you look at social ills like homelessness is so refreshingly different from the political mainstream (on either side). I paricularly liked the folllowing:

      “We can put homeless people in houses, but chances are they will end up on the streets again, given that they have somehow managed it already.”


      “To be fair, those homeless people had all the same opportunities as any other person born in this country - they had access to the same free education, free healthcare, deferred payment university and social welfare system that you and I did. “

      Genuine food for thought. But I wonder what serious academic effort is going into understanding why some people make use of all the opportunities we have in this country, while others become so destite they lack even a place to live? If there is some, we hear scant little about it.

      I also agree the ‘mental illness’ slogan is a rather questionable cop-out.

    • Bitten says:

      02:26pm | 22/06/12

      James1: +1

    • James1 says:

      02:01pm | 22/06/12

      You could say that Admiral, and I would not disagree. Personally, I think that arriving through irregular means should disqualify a person from seeking asylum, especially after the spate of recent boat tragedies. I’m not saying throw the money at boat people instead of the homeless.  I’m saying don’t use it to subsidise the poor life choices of others.  As regards mental illness, sure, that may be the case for some.  I think that poverty, addiction, unemployment, and related conditions have more to do with it in most cases.  To simply say “they have undiagnosed mental health issues and thus can’t help it” is a bit of a cop out.

      The fact is, you can’t help someone that won’t help themselves.  We can put homeless people in houses, but chances are they will end up on the streets again, given that they have somehow managed it already.  Increase funding for mental health services, sure.  But to throw money at homeless people simply because they happen to be born in a particular place is the height of welfarist folly.

    • James1 says:

      01:59pm | 22/06/12

      You could say that Admiral, and I would not disagree. Personally, I think that arriving through irregular means should disqualify a person from seeking asylum, especially after the spate of recent boat tragedies. I’m not saying throw the money at boat people instead of the homeless.  I’m saying don’t use it to subsidise the poor life choices of others.  As regards mental illness, sure, that may be the case for some.  I think that poverty, addiction, unemployment, and related conditions have more to do with it in most cases.  To simply say “they have undiagnosed mental health issues and thus can’t help it” is a bit of a cop out.

      The fact is, you can’t help someone that won’t help themselves.  We can put homeless people in houses, but chances are they will end up on the streets again, given that they have somehow managed it already.  Increase funding for mental health services, sure.  But to throw money at homeless people simply because they happen to be born in a particular place is the height of welfarist folly.

    • James1 says:

      01:43pm | 22/06/12

      I usually buy two or three copies of each issue of The Big Issue from two or three different vendors, Anne, because I believe in helping people who are willing to help themselves, and because I have the means to do so.  I have read the stories about descending into alcoholism and drug addiction leading to homelessness.  To drink and take drugs is a choice.  Also, I did not always have such means, having lived among and been one of the poorest this country has to offer.  I imagine I know a little more about our lower classes than you have gleaned from your reading of The Big Issue.  Did you even consider that my harsh perspective is perhaps conditioned by my contact with these people?  I agree with Tony Abbott on these matters - excepting the minority who have mental health issues and have slipped through the cracks - we can’t help the homeless unless they are willing to help themselves, by working, not drinking and taking drugs, and generally acting like responsible adult citizens.  Until that condition is met, I would prefer we put the money elsewhere.  Otherwise, any additional funding will simply be wasted.

      I agree on the mental health services to an extent, Daniel.  However, I question to what extent this is behind the majority of our homelessness - especially those 70-odd thousand who aren’t “sleeping rough”.  The statistics do not adequately address these nuances to effectively facilitate a detailed discussion of the role of the lack of mental health services in driving homelessness as opposed to the poor choices of individuals. 

      My apologies Maybe.  I am always trying to inject logic where it doesn’t belong, I know.

    • Admiral Ackbar says:

      01:24pm | 22/06/12

      “To be fair, those homeless people had all the same opportunities as any other person born in this country…”

      Did they though James1? Many of them have mental illness which has gone untreated and so on, and it is difficult to apply such a general comment to cater to each individual case. In relation to boat people, could I not say something like “To be fair, those boat people had all the same opportunities as any other person born in their home country who have not jumped on a boat…”.

      Maybe a lot of them did have the same opportunities as the rest of us, but it’s hard to say without knowing everyones life story. I wouldn’t go so far as to ‘blame’ asylum seekers for the plight of our own homeless, but I certainly wouldn’t be allowing our own homeless to continue like this while we provide housing for those who come here by boat. The money to house them, even in detention, has to come from somewhere and I know which cause I’d rather my tax dollars went to.

    • Maybe says:

      12:44pm | 22/06/12

      but James1, what you said makes to much sense and is too logical. 

      It really is counter-productive to start arguing about which groups f the downtrodden are most deserving.

    • Daniel says:

      12:37pm | 22/06/12

      You have to admit that access to mental health services has a lot to be desired. We need to help the people that fall through the cracks not kick them while their down and tell them to get their shit together. Better access to mental health services would decrease the number of people in our prisons and hopefully help people that are unnecessarily homeless.

    • Anne71 says:

      12:36pm | 22/06/12

      That’s a bit harsh, James1, to assume that people are only homeless because they “decided not to avail themselves of all the opportunities this great country offers”. Not only harsh but insulting.  I suggest that you pick up a copy of The Big Issue some time, and read some of the stories that homeless people have to tell about how they came to be homeless. It might just shock you out of that self-righteous complacency of yours. You might even realise, if I may use a very old-fashioned phrase, that “there but for the grace of God go I”.

    • James1 says:

      11:00am | 22/06/12

      To be fair, those homeless people had all the same opportunities as any other person born in this country - they had access to the same free education, free healthcare, deferred payment university and social welfare system that you and I did.  We can’t blame the current, or any other government for the fact that those who are now homeless decided not to avail themselves of all the opportunities this great country offers.  And we certainly can’t blame asylum seekers for the failures and choices of the homeless.

    • Rick with a silent P says:

      10:38am | 22/06/12

      I wouldn’t be hanging around the City if I was homeless , I’d be out in the bush maybe down on the banks of the Murray camping. Catching fish to eat plenty of fire wood to keep warm thats the life. Might even run into good old 6 toes Mary Joe Fisher, she’ll probably end up homeless, we can always use her for grocery shopping and the 5 finger discount..

    • Rusty says:

      10:20am | 22/06/12

      A bit rich Gail Kelly doing the media rounds like she is some sort of hero while her bank turfs people out of their homes and not passing on interest rate cuts. Just pathetic! How about the big 4 banks take a couple of million each of their advertising or extravaganr staff parties and donate to homeless charities or set up centres in each state for homeless to have somewhere safe to sleep? if they are so concerned?

    • Gregg says:

      10:17am | 22/06/12

      How many billions have been spent on school halls, millions being spent on people from other countries and again billions to be spent on the NBN, not to mention millions on advertising it seems and then billions again to go off shore from carbon taxing.

      We’re continually reminded by Labor on how generous and humane they are but surely even a small portion of school halls money could have provided accomodation halls for thousands and perhaps even offer something by way of practical training for employment or re-employment not to mention the many billions that are being frivously spent.

    • Little Joe says:

      06:32pm | 22/06/12

      @ Greg

      Isn’t it great that all those chairs are warm and dry tonight.

      Thanks Kevin, Julia and Co.

    • Mike says:

      10:05am | 22/06/12

      The solution to homelessness is to send the homeless to indonesia, take away their ID papers and pay a criminal to put them on a sinking, overcrowded boat headed for Christmas Island…. THEN the government will take perfect care of them. ILLEGAL immigrants get better care than Australian citizens in trouble. I feel like a shithead saying it, but it’s absolutely true!

    • Little Joe says:

      06:24pm | 22/06/12

      I have been saying it for years.

      You’re just reconciling yourself to the reality of living under a Labor Government

    • Josh says:

      09:53am | 22/06/12

      Thanks for doing this, Tory.  This issue needs to be watched closely.  We need to be aware of it and keep it in check.  We don’t want to be like the cities of North America, where I grew up. If you ever visit any of the major cities there, you will see homeless people simply everywhere.  It’s outrageous.  Half of them are mentally ill, the other half meth addicts or alcholics or runaway youths.  But the city-folk just don’t seem to care.  They think it’s normal and acceptable.  It’s not.

    • JN says:

      06:04pm | 22/06/12

      It’s funny you say that Josh. Several years ago I spent several months on a training course in Houston. I was absolutely amazed by the amount of street people; there seemed to be one on every street corner. Why do you think it is? Less safety nets there?

    • Alby says:

      09:52am | 22/06/12

      Those CEO’s really did it tough in those $400 sleeping bags rated to -20. In Sydney they had a roof over thier heads too! All the bank CEO’s are quoted as saying it really disturbs them that so many are homeless, but interest rates will remain high, i mean, those poor CEO’s have funding pressures homeless people could only dream of.

    • Admiral Ackbar says:

      01:05pm | 22/06/12

      Actually for me, this article raised awareness. Not the CEO’s who have the luxury of holding others down while giving themselves pay rises. One night out, whoop de fucking do, give them all the nobel peace prize.

      “So you propose to make their effort more realistic we should ask them to sleep in the rain?  Or perhaps get kicked by a passing stoner?”

      I propose that they simply give more, instead of making a token gesture for one night and seeking publicity for it with a shit eating grin on their over fed faces. But well done people, I guess someone has to shed a tear for those poor defenseless CEO’s.

    • Anne71 says:

      12:27pm | 22/06/12

      So what are you doing to help the homeless, Alby, that gives you the right to sneer at these CEOs for trying to help in their own way?

    • Alby says:

      11:19am | 22/06/12

      thanks robin, i now have a work injury, i fell off my chair laughing

    • Robin says:

      10:57am | 22/06/12

      Get real Alby, you are just a useless whining piece of trash.  I can see the difference.  I was homeless myself for 5 months so I do know what it is like.  So you propose to make their effort more realistic we should ask them to sleep in the rain?  Or perhaps get kicked by a passing stoner?  You are a fool and a whinger.  Why do you bother?  So you donate, yay for you.  And if this issue was not raised then many would not even be aware of the problem.  Dickhead

    • Alby says:

      10:50am | 22/06/12

      lol Robin, if you cannot see the hypocrisy in poor old gail sleeping ‘rough’ in a brand new sleeping bag with thermal mattress, note book, reading light, security gaurds, inside the totally secure train works….err why am i bothering. you can’t help some people.

      oh yeah, i donate without a fuss and one face

    • Matchofbris says:

      10:31am | 22/06/12

      At least they’re raising awareness? Though, the day they all chip in and fund a homeless shelter is the day I’ll truly feel like patting them on the back myself.

    • Robin says:

      10:30am | 22/06/12

      What a spiteful little comment.  What were you doing?  These CEO’s took a night away from their families in conditions that were not the most comfortable.  They did something, they raised awareness.  Most of them also raise funds for the homeless.  You a a poisonous, nasty individual.

    • Matchofbris says:

      09:49am | 22/06/12

      Homelessness is a tragedy. In Brisbane, The Big Issue magazine is distributed by homeless vendors, who then get to keep 50% of the cover price for themselves. Pretty interesting initiative. You see them every day, having a chat, selling copies.

    • Matchofbris says:

      11:57pm | 22/06/12

      Wow, I didn’t know. That’s awesome to hear.

    • Movin On says:

      04:51pm | 22/06/12

      The Big Issue is a world wide initiative, not just Brisbane.

    • TheHuntress says:

      11:39am | 22/06/12

      The Big Issue is an awesome initiative. I always endeavour to buy it and have a chat with whoever is selling it. I’m sure it’s run in all major cities (I’m in Perth) and it gives the chance for someone who is homeless (and approximately 80% of homeless people are mentally ill, further adding to the difficulty of holding down a job) to actually make some money in a dignified manner. People become homeless for so many reasons and giving these people a voice is an important aspect for us to be able to help them

    • Mahhrat says:

      09:46am | 22/06/12

      Makes you realise how lucky you are.

    • Carol says:

      09:42am | 22/06/12

      Why are they homeless? You cannot fix the problem until you know the cause.
      “About one in three of the homeless are 18 or younger”!  One has to ask, did they leave home of their own accord or were they thrown out?

    • HappyCynic says:

      01:23pm | 22/06/12

      It only takes 5 events for any person to become homeless, often it’s less.  Doesn’t matter if you’re rich, poor, sane or not, you’re just as likely to become homeless as someone who is already homeless, given the right (or wrong) set of circumstances.

      One interesting statistic I heard when working with youth homelessness is that 1 in 4 aussie residents under 25 will experience homelessness at least once before they turn 25.

    • Gratuitous Adviser says:

      11:53am | 22/06/12

      The most important comment I have read today.  Mental illness/addictions and/or abuse at home affects those that are the weak and unlucky in our society and there seems to very few ways out for them.

      Some of the contributors to our problem is societies reluctance to pay for the proper help of those in need (increased taxes and proper facilities and care) as well as the willingness to sue the bejesus out of any do-gooder that in time and hindsight ends up being a do-badder.  Of course we can later have some politician apologise and pay compensation on behalf of the taxpayer.  Tokenism loves a good cause.

    • marley says:

      11:06am | 22/06/12

      I’m pretty sure a lot of the chronically homeless are suffering from mental illness and/or addictions.  The lack of mental health facilities may not be the cause of the problem but it sure doesn’t help.

    • Gregg says:

      10:08am | 22/06/12

      You would really need to know the underbelly of our society to answer your queries Carol and starting with community welfare departments to get a measure of violent households could be a good starting point, homes where bashings or worse still sexual molestations occur and then there’ll likely be a few other reasons too.
      And then you have to find the right longer term solutions if that is possible, harder economic times likely to make for more cases and finding solutions far more difficult.

    • Kika says:

      09:34am | 22/06/12

      Bravo!  Wow you are really brave Tory! Kudos for you.  I’ve always admired Vinnies and the CEO sleep out. It’s a great idea.

    • Theo says:

      09:17am | 22/06/12

      I feel for them, I really do- but dropping off at a hospital should not be an option. If anything, this highlights the desperate need we have for homeless shelters etc. but don’t use hospitals, the resources are strained as it is.

    • Kipling says:

      07:21pm | 22/06/12

      yep, don’t use hospitals.

      So, where do you suggest?

      I think the point of using hospitals is to highlight how desparate the situation is.

      This has been a developing situation though for some decades. It isn’t a new issue by any standards a “quick fix” won’t work and long term committments are short in supply from the political sector accross the board. Sadly, it will take a whole lot more than Tory’s article to put this issue fully into public focuss.

    • Matchofbris says:

      10:20am | 22/06/12

      Agreed there. You don’t solve one problem by mixing it with another.

    • Hartz says:

      09:14am | 22/06/12

      Hats off to you Tory for bringing some attention to this sad state of affairs. Charity starts at home… A little bit of a focus on our own problems rather than trying to fix the whole worlds problems might be a nice change…

    • Little Joe says:

      06:21pm | 22/06/12

      @ Hartz


      The Punch has been publishing my comments on the 100,000 homeless Australian for years while they play political foolball with border protection and refugee rights.

      You do realise that under Labor the budget for Illegal Immigration has blown out from less than $200,000,000 to approximately $1,100,000,000. With a couple of years funding that Labor has thrown away on illegal immigration we could have gone a long way to ending homelessness in Australia.

      Meanwhile, the refugees get houses in front of Australians

    • thatmosis says:

      08:48am | 22/06/12

      Haven’t these homeless people worked out yet that they only have to find a boat, go out to sea about 5 klms and then use a mobile phone to radio the Coast Guard to pick them up as Illegal Immigrants, not forgetting of course to throw their papers overboard, tsk, tsk. Silly people, they would be given warm beds, three meals a day, mobile phones to call their relatives, free legal and not have a worry in the world. Oh by the way this is not sarcasm.
        If this almost Government spent as much on our homeless as they spend on those illegally entering this country the homeless would be a lot better off and it would be a case of looking after one’s own before looking after others first, the way it should be.

    • Winkle1 says:

      01:21am | 24/06/12

      I think our homeless people sleeping rough, particularly in this bitterly cold weather, have enough intelligence to realise that their plight is real, cold and lonely ... and that anyone who believes, that people in boats seeking asylum, have many many worries to keep them awake at night. I wonder how smug we would be, if life dealt us a nasty hand and we endured night after night on the streets ... or ... if we came from a war torn country, full of fear, memories of family dead or missing, fear or experiences of torture and imprisonment ... I would imagine that we may be, just a little more humble in both circumstances. Well written Tory

    • Little Joe says:

      06:12pm | 22/06/12

      @ fml

      How do you find a boat??

      A destitute, anxious, poverty stricken Australian with no identification can’t find a boat yet a destitute, anxious, poverty stricken refugee with no identification can find a boat.

      How do you find a boat??

    • bael says:

      02:33pm | 22/06/12

      @Good Grief,
      Actually there is often a higher rate of sexual assualt and violent abuse in womens prisons. I studied them during my law studies and good grief it was horrific the things female inmates did to each other.
      Thing to remember sexual violence is as much driven by power inbalances than anything else.

    • Good Grief says:

      01:17pm | 22/06/12


      well… squatting doesn’t ensure 3 meals a day, lol

      on a more serious note, I personally think (from a perhaps very naive point of view) that life in prison (prisons for lesser crimes at least) would be safer than being out on the streets. Homeless people are just as vulnerable to attacks out on the streets as they are in prison. At least in prison, you have food, shelter, bedding and people to talk to. Homeless women might find it advantageous too, in that they will be in an all women’s prison, free from any potential sexual abuse out on the streets.

    • fml says:

      12:37pm | 22/06/12


      Why steal the boat? why not squat? I’d imagine some boats would be pretty comfy.

    • thatmosis says:

      12:19pm | 22/06/12

      I know and that’s what makes the Government inaction all the more galling. These people are Australians and in my book come before all else including asylum seekers, starving Africans, schools in Indonesia and the miriade of other things our tax payer dollars are wasted on.
        The reason that most congregate in city areas is because of the profusion of restaurants that throw out perfectly good food nightly, the warmer nooks and crannies to get out of the weather compared to the wide open spaces of suburbia and beyond.
        Some one asked the other day “where’s our compassion” for the asylum seekers but I say where’s our compassion and the Government for our own.

    • Good Grief says:

      12:03pm | 22/06/12


      they can try steal a boat. That way, even if they get caught in the attempt, a warm bed in prison with 3 square meals, clean clothing, internet and cable tv will be waiting for them.

    • Daylight robbery says:

      10:32am | 22/06/12

      Unfortunately thatmosis as stated by CEOSleepOut , “Approx 80% of people coming to Vinnies have some form of mental illness”

      I do know a Liberal politician who offered homeless accomodation and help in her electorate but it was refused by most. 
      There is a range of reasons for homeless wanting to be in their predicament not coping with bills etc for different reasons.
      They can have very dynamic accomodation needs and a range of variables have them where they are.

      At first I thought a bunch of sea-containers/donger style accomodation would be worth a shot in a designated area but a lot of homeless accumulate in innercity areas.

      Most want food but where some fall is where they live.

    • fml says:

      10:30am | 22/06/12

      They can’t find a bed, let alone a house, how are they supposed to find a boat?


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