Published: 21 June 2012
Uni leaders sleep rough to help Brisbane’s homeless
UQ bosses are facing a cold night sleeping under the stars at South Bank tonight to help raise awareness of homelessness in Brisbane.
Director of the Sustainable Minerals Institute (SMI) Professor Chris Moran and the CEO of UQ Health Care Darryl Grundy at The University of Queensland will join the annual Vinnies CEO Sleepout, helping raise more than $700,000 for the St Vincent de Paul Society in Queensland. The society provides food, clothing, accommodation and rehabilitation for those in need.
Dr Cameron Parsell from the Institute for Social Science Research (ISSR) says Brisbane has an “alarming rate” of homelessness, with 2070 without a home on any given night, many of them women with dependent children seeking shelter in the suburbs, “rather than the quintessential idea of an older man with a bottle in the inner city”.
He says research has shown that homelessness is not just about being cold at night, it has a wide-reaching effects on a person's lifestyle.
“People without a home don't have a legitimate space or the capacity or self determination to control their own day-to-day lives. There is an important symbolic dimension that comes with having your own space,” he said.
Just being able to throw a load of washing on or watch a television channel of choice were small options that were not available to people with no home.
“It also applies for relationships. Being able to have personal and social relationships, being able to entertain the people you want to and, likewise, being able to keep out the people you don't,” he said.
Dr Parsell has conducted studies into the effects of homelessness. With the support of Commonwealth and Queensland Government funding, Dr Parsell and colleagues at the ISSR are currently examining the effectiveness of Brisbane's Street to Home program in achieving reductions in homelessness for people with acute vulnerabilities.
“The new policy initiatives for ending homelessness have come about because of public awareness that homelessness is a real problem. Initiatives such as the sleepout add further weight to the conversation. Public awareness can translate to government and community actively doing something about it.”
ISSR is conducting further research into whether people assisted into housing leads to further improvements to health and wellbeing in their day-to-day lives.
“We are interested in preventing homelessness at a structural level. Understanding what is required and what is the most effective of institutional and policy arrangements, as well as the different models of supportive housing for different groups of people,” he said.
Darryl Grundy said the event highlighted an important function of UQ Health Care's work with homeless people.
“I feel very strongly about this event due to our work with the homeless and the understanding of the mental and physical health issues they face,” he said.
UQ Health Care Annerley provides clinics to the Ozcare South Brisbane Men's Hostel, providing a specialised medical centre reaching out to the homeless and focusing on the particular care they need.
Professor Chris Moran of SMI said the event highlighted the detrimental impact homelessness can have and the role that others play in helping to provide for people in need.
“St Vinnies does a tremendous job caring for people in the community. This initiative will raise much-needed funds and remind people that homelessness is a serious problem in Brisbane.
“I'm only sleeping in the cold for one night, it's shocking to think this is a way of life for so many,” he said.
All participants will be armed with only a beanie, a sleeping bag, a sheet of cardboard, soup bread roll and a hot drink when they face a predicted nine degrees tonight.
For more information or to support the UQ participants, visit www.ceosleepout.org.au and search under Queensland participants.
Media enquiries: Tara Young (0408 159 805) or Anna Bednarek (0478 487 211).
Dr Cameron Parsell (07 334 69297 or email@example.com, 0410 565 317)
Pictures available of Chris Moran and Dr Cameron Parsell (firstname.lastname@example.org or 07 3346 0561)
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