‘Awareness’ critical to a better understanding of complex issue

With Sydney in the vice-like grip of freezing temperatures, the rising cost of living and rents, and a shortage of affordable housing, there is an urgent need for the community to better understand the plight of the homeless.

This was the message from PAYCE Foundation Director Dominic Sullivan as he prepared to brave the cold for this year’s Vinnies CEO Sleepout on June 20.

Dominic Sullivan says solving homelessness requires a strong community response.

“This is a perfect storm, and standing by is not an option as a community,” said Mr Sullivan, who is also co-chair of the End Street Sleeping Collaboration.

He said homelessness is a complex issue and needs to be better understood across the community.

“Awareness is critical because until we understand the nature of the problem and why we have a problem, how can we try and solve it?” he said.

“Community campaigns like this are really important, and End Street Sleeping has been trying to encourage a community response that’s collective and is going to assist governments, not-for-profits, charities, and also business leaders.”

Mr Sullivan got a glimpse of life rough sleeping as temperatures plummeted and the cold enveloped his cardboard cover at the White Bay Cruise Terminal in Rozelle.

“It was a long, uncomfortable night – and it is hard to fathom that in a modern society, this is life for a lot of people day in and day out,” he said.

Mr Sullivan raised more than $11,000 for the cause.

At events held in Sydney, Newcastle, and Wollongong, business and community leaders raised $2.5 million in sponsorship to sleep outdoors as temperatures fell to six degrees.

The funds will go to a range of services, including crisis accommodation, domestic and family violence refuges, specialist healthcare, case management, rent support, and Vinnies Vans.

This year, Vinnies’ major fundraiser raised more than $7.8 million nationally to support its work in assisting people experiencing and at risk of homelessness.

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