Why we serve
“It is a cold Tuesday night. It is raining heavily and there is a strong gust of wind. As I walk down a long, dark, bumpy road in mainstream Parramatta, I see a cluster of people; mainly middle-aged men, but amongst them also, people from all walks of life. It is cold, yet these people are scattered along the cold and bitter grounds of a park, with barely anything to hold onto for warmth or comfort. Down the road, outside a soup kitchen, a group of people patiently wait on a long que to be served what may be their only meal for the day. It is 10 o’clock at night.
Only one street away, there is a man, who shivers from the cold. He is holding so tightly to his belongings as though they were his life, all of which were placed into the one old and raggedy bag. Directly in front of me, is a young woman with a baby, trying so hard to control the loud cry of her child. Only a few blocks down, there is a group of men, who sleep on hard, cold, wooden benches. It is still raining, and one man has become so soaking wet from the forces of the wind, blowing the rain into the only shelter he had for the night, that he cannot sleep.
Down at the road at the local hostel there is a man who sits silently, confused and distressed. His face full of anguish and anxiety, as though his whole world had just fallen apart. This is the reality of homelessness.”
Even in a country as wealthy as Australia, the country of the ‘fair go’, there are a large number of homeless people. Over the years organisations have continually come to realise that this epidemic is one that is a growing concern for all Australians, and something that needs to be addressed.
In the 1996 Australian Census (Healey 2002:19), there was a staggering 105,304 homeless people in Australia. Out of all the states in Australia, New South Wales holds the largest proportion of homeless people, with just under 30,000 people being identified as homeless. There are also the ‘hidden homeless’.