By Mitchell Sabine
The Brisbane City Council opened the door to thousands of homeless today to help put them in touch with vital services.
The Council’s Homeless Connect event, which is held twice annually at the RNA showgrounds at Herston on Brisbane’s northside, has a broad range of stalls to help homeless or at-risk people.
The Salvation Army also helped by providing a free breakfast, thousands of free clothes and a team of volunteers.
Along with the free food and clothes, the stalls offered information on legal and medical care, accommodation referral, and even free haircuts.
Event organiser, Salvation Army Major Bryce Davies, said the event aimed to connect homeless people with tangible services.
“It’s about trying to help homeless people and people who are isolated in terms of economics, understand what kind of services are available to them,” Major Davies said.
Major Davies said they enticed people into the building with free clothes and food so they could meet people who could help them.
“Hopefully they can meet some people who work in those services and find out in detail how those people can help them,” Major Davies said.
Volunteer Rachael Welsh says the day is not just for homeless, but those affected by the January floods as well.
“They come here and we provide shoes, clothes, toiletries and food, and they get to meet people in the same situation,” Ms Welsh said.
Queensland Young Australian of the Year, Jean Madden, who designed the ‘Street Swag’, was at the event donating hundreds of swags to the homeless.
Ms Madden said the event was important to put homeless and at-risk people in contact with services they would otherwise struggle to find.
“We have to concentrate on getting people the support they can’t access on other days,” she said.
The former schoolteacher designed the swag after discovering the physical and mental health effects sleeping on concrete has.
“There are food vans and other charities out there … we found the biggest problem was getting a good night’s sleep,” Ms Madden said.
Ms Madden, who has worked in youth missions and community projects for many years, said the number of people living on the street in Australia was just not good enough.
She said it was possible to not have any homeless people in Queensland.
“There is no reason why we can’t have no homelessness and no poverty … we are one of the wealthiest countries in the world,” she said.
“There’s no reason we should have families and children in our communities sleeping in the dirt.”