10 Things You Don’t Know About the Homeless Part 2

Image Source: Smart Recovery Australia

6. They may have talent 
While there is so much stigma surrounding the issue of homelessness, it has been revealed on the streets that the homeless have far more talent than you really think they do. From speaking multiple languages to creating street edge art to hand crafting to being a graduate at university. Don’t hesitate to ask the next homeless person their life story, you never know what they might have up their sleeve!

7. They could be desperately wanting to get back into the game (society)
It’s always assumed that the homeless are lazy and don’t want to get back up on their feet to face the real world. This is definitely a false assumption. While some have sought different jobs, they were just not successful and were forced into their position. Sometimes, it’s just not a choice.

8. They may have been regarded as a criminal
Some women who desperately need sanitary products often go into supermarkets or a local gas station and steal pads or tampons. There have been cases where these women have been fined, making the case a criminal offence. Homeless women suffer enough as it is, why should begging and loitering be a criminal offence for them?

9. They may have left due to a natural disaster
Natural disasters are out of our hands. No one has control over what happens, it’s all climate change. From tsunamis, to fires to thrashed homes as a result of a tornado/hurricane have left many people homeless.

10. They could have been disowned by their family 
Mistakes happen and it’s for these little mistakes that children and young adults get abandoned and left to live on the streets. Can this be solved?

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10 Things You Don’t Know About the Homeless Part 1

Image Source: RT

Envisage what could have gone wrong in the past

The next time you walk past a homeless woman, take the time to think about what could have gone wrong and how did they end up where they were. Rather than dismissing the homeless just because you think they’re failures or drug addicts which has become a misleading conception in this age. Let us reflect on some of the real stories behind each homeless person.

1. Not every homeless is a victim of poverty 
It is often perceived that the main cause of homelessness is due to poverty. That isn’t always the case. Have you ever thought of it being a case of suffering from a loss, mental health problem or re-adjusting to civilian life after a traumatic period in their life?

2. They could have escaped from an illness
For those living it rough on the streets, they have probably escaped a catastrophe beyond our imagination. For instance in the case of Natasha Lyonne, who was an actress in ‘Slums of Beverly Hills’ and ‘American Pie’ before being arrested for a DUI and was charged with mischief, trespass and harassment of a neighbour. These incidents then led to the hospitalisation of having a collapsed lung and hepatitis C. She was evicted and was left to live on the streets. Lyonne tried to revitalise her acting career in later years.

3. They could have been homeless children
We tend to associate homelessness with adults but little do we know that 43% of the homeless comprise of people aged under 24. Youth Homeless Aus is an initiative that aims to raise the awareness on youth homelessness and aims to break the stereotype. It is often easy to miss the younger ones living it rough on the streets as they tend to be out camping in cars or parks.

4. They may very well be a domestic violence victim
Domestic violence has been an ongoing and biggest cause of women becoming homeless. One of the most heartbreaking things to think about is that women have resorted to homelessness as an alternative to escape physical and sexual abuse.

5. They might not be able to pay rent
It is often assumed that homeless people decide to abandon everything they have at home to live a carefree life. With the increasing dollars placed on property in Australia, some just cannot afford to fork out more than half their yearly salary to pay for rent. This stands as one of the greatest problems as to why so many people are living on the streets.

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When Living in Comfort is Out of Reach

Image Source: NewsX

They didn’t choose this life.

Not everyone is fortunate enough to earn the big bucks, and for those that are living it rough on the streets across Australia, there’s often very little hope at the end of the tunnel.

There’s not a day that goes past where you don’t see a homeless in the CBD of each state. They are congregating stations and sidewalks during the day and often parks and little alleyways in the evening, not really caring about the stares they receive by passing commuters.

As a woman, living on the streets is difficult enough from dealing with periods every month to feeling anxious that a man would take advantage of her and to lacking the essentials to maintain personal hygiene.

How could we as commuters provide some sort of comfort for these women?

Donating a small tent 
Do you have a tent just sitting at the back of your garage collecting dust? If the answer is yes, why not take it to a homeless woman today? It would mean everything to them to feel that much safer in an enclosed tent, to fend off the wind on cold nights, to fend off any lurkers that could cause harm to them, to have that privacy and to be able to change without having to find the nearest public restroom.

Donating a blanket
If you’re under a roof and still feel cold, imagine what it’s like for all the homeless people out there. If you have an extra blanket laying around the house, donate it to the local shelter or even to the homeless directly. For women, a blanket can be used not only just a way of keeping them warm but can also be used as a back support when that time of the month comes by rolling it up.

Donating a sleeping bag
When was the last time you went on camp and bought a sleeping bag? I don’t know about you but it’s definitely been quite some time since i’ve last used mine. Once again, find the time to donate it, it can make a real difference to the homeless.

The next time you have a garage sale or donate to a non-for-profit organisation, think about the items that can help the homelessness feel more at home.

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World Homeless Day

Image source: Loaves and Fishes

Every year on the 10th day of October, it has been marked as the World Homeless Day. Homelessness is becoming increasingly problematic in all continents. This day has evolved to address the needs of homeless people from bringing communities together, to raising the awareness and supporting one another. As we’ve seen across the weeks of this campaign, homeless women in particular suffer not only from poverty but also from domestic violence, mental health issues, the lack of access to personal hygiene products and feeling the prejudice they face from the privileged classes. It appears that we are slowly seeing the light at the end of the tunnel where it is could be possible to end homelessness. But first, how can this be done?

Spreading awareness
As a united entity, we all need to help by raising the awareness on the issue of homelessness. Spread the awareness on the problems that homeless women face; from domestic violence to lacking the essentials of a warm shower or clean clothes to the mothers on the streets who struggle to care for their kids. We need everyone to support and make this a permeate change for the future.

Support services
On this very day, the theme of the World’s Homeless Day is to educate, celebrate and to highlight. With the support of services and organisations, a difference can be made to the homeless. This can be achieved by holding motivational talks by pointing out the positive steps that can be taken to show active participation, getting volunteers to work out how to improve the funds and donations that go towards the homeless and build an online community that everyone can access to become an active member of the campaign.

Stay tuned for more solutions to end homelessness!


Sharing The Dignity Comes Hand in Hand


Image Source: Richard Hamm Photography

Something so small can make a difference for women in need

In 2015, at least 75 women died as a result of domestic violence, one in four women have experienced some form of physical or sexual violence and 25% of homelessness has been a result of family or domestic violence. As mentioned in the previous week, this is something we are already aware of, being one of the top causes forcing women to leave home.

The non-for-profit initiative, Share The Dignity was founded by Rochelle Courtenay and launched this program to deliver tampons to the homeless women. Many women that she came across had experienced years of domestic violence without realising that a support line was available – 1800RESPECT. It came to her awareness that women had to be alerted in some way or another.

That is when the campaign partnered with Cottons (an established family business that offers synthetic products to ensure comfort in the most delicate area of the body) to raise the awareness for the hotline. They achieved this successfully by placing the 1800RESPECT number inside the packaging of tampons – it’s simple. Why? Because it’s a hidden spot men don’t often take a peak of.

Why is this vital for women?

“We need women everywhere to KNOW THE NUMBER in order to CHANGE THE NUMBER” – Rochelle Courtenay, 2016.

Lend a hand, be a Sheroe or Heroe and donate to Share The Dignity today!

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The fears of being a homeless woman


Why do homeless women hide in order to find safety?

While there are countless homeless women living on the streets of Sydney, they are often victimised where the fear forces them into hiding, making them less visible to help. Strolling through the parks of Sydney, it is often difficult to find a homeless woman and one of the many reasons why this is the case is because they are hiding to find safety.

Why must they hide to find safety?

The top causes of homelessness arise from women experiencing domestic violence in the past forcing them to leave home, women who end up losing a job, depression or family problems, the involvement of drugs and alcohol and even the embarrassment of not being able to maintain personal hygiene.

Homeless women fear going to shelters as a result of men being present there, while they may receive health and social services, many women don’t end up showing up at the shelters or transitional housing programs that are made available to them. The reason for this is because some women have gone through the experiences of being raped or have gone through domestic violence which often triggers the most traumatic memories. By going to shelters, women fear that they may be potentially victimised once again.

What these homeless women need the most is a secure place to go to. It’s as simple as rebuilding their confidence by providing personal hygiene products, a warm shower and clean clothes.

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Did someone say UTIs?


Could this explain one of the many reasons why homeless women have a lower life expectancy?

Beyond the emotional impact where the dignity for these homeless women is so far fetched are the concerns of their health. Without the ability to access sanitary products every month or the overuse of pads and tampons, these women are putting their lives at risk with the lead up to serious conditions including urinary tract infections, vaginal infections and skin rashes.

Urinary tract infections  are caused by the micro-organisms or in other words, a bacteria called Escherichia, most commonly found in women. The UTI affects the urethra, bladder or kidneys. To gain a better understanding, every one has a urinary system which minimises any risks of serious infection in both kidneys. Some of the most common symptoms that show signs of the UTI is wanting to urinate more than usual, a burning sensation when urinating, feeling a full bladder even after urinating, pain developing above the pubic bone area and blood found in the urine (other than the menstrual flow).

The people at greater risk of developing UTIs are often women who are found to be sexually active, people with diabetes and homeless women. With the lack of public restrooms available for homeless women, they are often found holding in their urine leading to an increased chance of developing a UTI. With very minimal access to showers, homeless women don’t have the luxury of cleaning the vaginal area, especially during their most dreaded time of the month. It is not only vital to clean the area but also being able to change a sanitary pad once every six hours and a tampon once every two hours. While many of us can afford the opulence of having a warm shower, the affordance of sanitary products and the ability to read up on these diseases, it isn’t as easy for the women on the streets. If you’ve made it this far, keep reading to find out how you can possibly help these women out.

Vaginitis or otherwise known as a vaginal infection is once again caused by micro-organisms that cause discharge along with itching, redness and a burning sensation. The conditions that make it more likely to contract the infection is poor hygiene and the repeated use of the same underwear that is non-absorbent. By providing on the go showers like One Voice has, this can limit the number of homeless women contracting such an infection.

We hope that you can share this information and donate to existing campaigns such as Share The Dignity or the Sydney Period Project to decrease the chances of homeless women contracting any infectious disease.

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Funding sanitary products in public restrooms


Think about the women, not the money

Have you ever been in public and instantly felt that your time of the month had arrived? You panic and don’t have any sanitary products on you and run straight the bathroom to realise there are no pads or tampons dispensed in vending machines. What do you do then? Call or text a girlfriend for an emergency kit? Use toilet paper as a temporary fix and then proceed to purchase them at the closest convenience store?

There is often a solution for all us women but there are often limited solutions for homeless women. Feeling embarrassed and having the fear of being judged by the general public, homeless women often don’t get the luxury of phoning a friend or have a restroom equipped with all the necessary products to stay clean during their TOM.

Sydney City Councillor, Edward Mandla has constructed a proposal, allowing women to access sanitary products for free across all council restrooms.

Mandla stated, “city of Sydney is flush with cash and throws around money like there’s no tomorrow. There’s money for everyone and lots of talk about equality. But there’s little in practical leadership solutions.

Providing free sanitary products for homeless women is a low cost solution that we can all help to achieve in the near future.

If the votes are accepted to proceed with Mandla’s proposal, this can make a real difference for the homeless women being able to access public restrooms and gaining free access to sanitary items.

With the support of campaigns like Share The Dignity which was founded by Rochelle Courtenay to deliver sanitary products to homeless women and the survivors of domestic violence and Sydney’s Period Project which provides the care and support for homeless women by donating sanitary items, you can easily help out by donating your monthly sanitary products to either campaigns to make a difference.

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Drop the GST on periods



“Where’s the social and economic justice?”

Picture yourself strolling through a local convenience store or supermarket and stocking up on sunscreen for the summer, nicotine products and lubricants. Why is it fair that these products are GST exempt but the essential sanitary products of pads and tampons have a 10 per cent tax put in place?

In 2015, Bill Shorten went against Tony Abbott’s decision to keep the GST on sanitary products for women. However, on the 8th of June, 2016, Shorten was asked “if elected will you drop the GST on tampons?” He failed to admit that it would take place stating, “no, i’ve to say, I’m not going to make a promise I can’t keep.” During the live stream of the forum held in Brisbane, it was clearly evident that Shorten was steering away from the main question by bringing in the issues of cutting back on medical costs and protecting Medicare.

Why are pads and tampons deemed as a ‘luxury’ and non-essential?

While the tax can be easily ignored by women who can afford as much as $12,000 in a lifetime on these ‘luxuries,’ it is one of the most difficult challenges for homeless women. Homeless women are often found stealing sanitary products from the local stores and fined 5 times as much as the cost of the products. Periods for them is not a lifestyle choice.

New York, Canada and Kenya have all removed the tax on menstrual products so why is Australia falling behind?

As women, we can all agree that periods are agonising enough. Picture how excruciating it is for homeless women. Let’s put a halt on the tampon tax!

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An uplifting solution for homeless women


Restoring the dignity in the lives of homeless women

Most of us take for granted the daily necessities of having a warm shower and changing into new clothes every day, but maintaining personal hygiene is one of the greatest challenges for homeless women.

The NSW Government approached a non-for-profit organisation known as OneVoice to transform state transit buses into a mobile shower service. OneVoice has recently provided homeless people with a mobile shower bus that allows them to shower, brush their teeth, change their clothes and most importantly, to restore their dignity. The mobile shower service can hold up to 2000 litres of water and can provide 40 hot showers a day, accommodating 15 people each time.

Can you already see how this will be the next refreshing solution for homeless women?

There is no need to queue up for hours waiting for a shower, no need to use public restrooms and no need to squeeze into the tiny cubicles at gas stations.

One Voice is making a difference for all homeless people by building relationships, offering mobile wardrobes, free haircuts and more! Homeless women don’t need to feel embarrassed or judged during their time of month (TOM) anymore with access to a clean shower and fresh clothes on the go.

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