Brisbane sleepout raises $33,000 for women’s homelessness services
BY CLIFF WORTHING
The Salvation Army Brisbane City Women’s Homelessness Services was the beneficiary of funds raised by the Brisbane Sleepout on 8 September at the RNA Showgrounds.
About 70 people participated in the event, raising more than $33,000 for women’s services, which provide supported accommodation for 35 women at a time and a mobile support service focused on early intervention and prevention of homelessness for women.
“It was a good night. Everyone was in a reflective space and shared their own stories and experiences,” said Amelia Nixon, Community Development Worker at Brisbane City Women’s Homelessness Services. “It was great to build relationships with lots of like-minded people with a shared purpose.”
Program Manager Jocelyn Harrison provided an overview of the service and encouraged participants to recognise the importance of listening to and reflecting on the experiences of women who had experienced homelessness. She asked everyone to reflect on the question, “What does home mean to you?” to set the tone for the evening and build shared understanding for attendees.
A panel discussion that included two women with lived experience of homelessness enhanced participants’ understanding of the issues faced by women. Emma and Betty explained their challenges of escaping domestic violence, interactions with the Department of Child Safety and being priced out of the rental market.
“Emma and Betty really connected with the audience and appreciated being able to tell their story,” Amelia said. “We really appreciated Emma and Betty coming along. Connecting with the community this way is so important in reducing stigma and helps develop the community’s understanding of homelessness and how to support people.”
Funds raised will help the women’s service support early interventions such as assisting with rental arrears, sustaining a current tenancy, furniture or relocation costs for new tenancies and addressing other barriers to keeping their children in the home and the family being able to stay where they are.
“We are all in this together,” Amelia said. “We can respond as a community to address this growing issue, listening and valuing the contributions of those who have experienced this firsthand, alongside the work of government and social services in this space.”
“I was really moved by the outpouring of support for homelessness in the community, and even though I was nervous to speak, I am so glad I did it,” Emma said. “Thanks everyone for showing up and showing your support.”