A call to action on homelessness

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19 July 2023

Over 60 compassionate students and staff from Mount St Joseph Girls’ College, Altona, spent the night in their sports hall to raise awareness about the prevalence of homelessness in our society. Year 12 Sustainability Leader Jade Neary shares the experience from the college’s 2023 Vinnies Sleepout:

The evening was organised by our college Youth in Action team and three local St Vincent de Paul Society conference presidents (along with the Vinnies Youth Engagement Officer for secondary schools) attended as guest speakers, shedding light on the shocking facts and statistics surrounding homelessness: an inspiring and powerful call to action.

Our event began with students arriving with nothing more than a sleeping bag and the clothes they were wearing, in solidarity with the minimal possessions of many homeless people. Participants were provided with a humble soup dinner, symbolising the food homeless people are typically offered.

students receiving a soup dinner

After dinner, students participated in various learning engagement activities, including making a quilt blanket, building a shelter, participating in a cost-of-living activity and homelessness trivia, and creating care packages that consisted of winter items and feminine hygiene products donated by students.

Before heading to bed, students watched the film, All Together Now, depicting a talented and optimistic teenager who clings to the secret that she’s homeless and living on a bus. This film added depth to our understanding and emotional connection to the issue. When it came to sleeping, many students struggled with the hard gym floor, as well as not having heating, extra blankets or a soft mattress below them.

Our Vinnies Sleepout was a huge success, raising over $1000 for Vinnies Victoria. Our students and staff left the sports hall with a renewed sense of appreciation for their own living conditions, a new desire to raise awareness of the plight of homelessness and a yearning to call others to action.

students at the college’s 2023 Vinnies Sleepout