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Homelessness matters to us

With Youth Homeless Matters Day 2015 observed recently it is time to highlight the fact that 19,831 people are experiencing homelessness in Queensland, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2012 Census. 17.3% of them are under 12 years of age and 40.7% of them are under the age of 24.

The homeless issues in Bundaberg certainly matters at IMPACT Community Services as volunteers head out every Tuesday evening to meet and assist the local homeless and people in need in the dedicated Street Outreach van.

IMPACT's Street Outreach Service facilitator Becky Spruce said homelessness was a real concern in Bundaberg. "We can meet up to 10 people in a night while we're out. We head to many places around town to try and meet with as many people as we can."

However, meeting people on the streets is only a small part of the homelessness issues Becky said. "It's common for people to think that all homeless people sleep on the streets. But rough sleeping, is only a small part of the problem. Homelessness is about not having a home, which means having a sense of security, stability, privacy, safety and the ability to control your living space. Many homeless are couch surfing, often moving between services and shelters or even from town to town."

Our outreach service aims to meet and assist people where possible. "We are mostly about reaching out to those in need, being that friendly person that will sit and have a chat, offer advocacy advice and offer some necessary supplies like blankets, toothbrushes and tinned food. We are particularly grateful to Street Swags for supplying us with their products for our local people."

For Shalom College students youth homelessness already matters. Shalom's Adam's House has adopted IMPACT's Street Outreach Van as the recipient for their "Pay it Forward" philosophy and fundraising efforts. Joe O'Driscoll is the Dean of Adam's House and he is particularly proud of how the students have taken to raising funds and supporting IMPACT's services.

"The students have undertaken a range of fundraising initiatives including "A dollar for Damo" (made up a homeless person's name), Killer Python and Sno Cone sales, and a recent tin food drive was particularly fruitful," Joe said. "We are continuing to put together hygiene packs as well as collect blankets, towels, clothes, beanies and socks especially as we head into winter." Adam's House has about 167 students from all year levels, and all fundraising ideas come from the kids with approximately $3000 worth being donated to date.