50 signatures reached
To: Local, State and Federal Government
Hot showers and Clothing for our homeless
Create more easily accessible washing and shower facilities for those that are living a life of homelessness in all communities no matter size.
This change I believe could be made and that it would allow at least a measure of dignity and access in homeless peoples lives with out being put under the microscope.
Public policy could be implemented reasonably quickly to create facilities that could ensure access would be unimpeded to hot showers and clean clothing, washing and drying facilities etc plus access to other clean clothes (without having to disclose name, age circumstance etc unless individuals chose to disclose information)
At minimum the small measure of dignity that this would afford our homeless would in the least allow our homeless access to board a bus to head North for the Winter or go into a shop without people treating them differently.
Why is this important?
Whilst working on Flinders St in the Melbourne CBD In recent years I have had regular contact with several homeless people that frequent the area and made several friends. In the summer of one year I was walking under the train tracks and happened across a lady I had not met before named Jean. She was quite obviously homeless but in very good spirits, I asked if there was anything she needed or could I do anything for her and she smiled and said no love I am fine but thank you.
In the winter of that same year I bumped into her again and offered her a hot cup of tea, she was by that stage in very bad shape, shaking and almost crying as she said distraughtly yes please. I raced away and then brought a cup of tea to her and we sat and chatted whilst she drank her hot tea.
We talked about her situation, issues she faced and she informed me that to combat the harsh Melbourne winter as a homeless person she had purchased a ticket and had tried to board a bus heading North to a warmer climate but was not allowed on the bus as "she was smelly and it would affect the other passengers" as she had not bathed for some time.
Not only did she not have home and access to running water and change of clothes she was also denied access to transport for which she had paid to enable her to escape the harsh Melbourne winter.
I offered her a shower at my house but she politely declined, I believe she said no because she did not want to intrude/ bring her desperate situation into another persons life.
I then offered her a blanket and she said yes. I raced home and grabbed the warmest sleeping bag I could find and went back but could unfortunately not find her. I never saw her again.
From that moment I knew there are many changes that need to be made to our current systems and policies so as not to allow people like Jean not just to fall but to be pushed though the cracks.
Ok - What else can we do?
I believe it is possible to reverse the current situation of homelessness in Australia and to reduce the numbers by a large degree as illustrated by Finland and that it will take time, there is no quick fix.
I also believe that unfortunately there will always be people living on our streets for one reason or another.
For those that are living a life of homelessness one change that I believe could be made and that could affect change in peoples lives such as Jeans and could also be implemented as public policy reasonably quickly would be the unimpeded access to hot showers and clean clothing plus access to washing machines and dryers for those that want to keep their clothing or access to other clean clothes.
At minimum the small measure of dignity that this would afford our homeless would in the least allow them access to board a bus to head North for the Winter or go into a shop without people treating them differently.