I went to a short film screening last night at the Chauvel Cinema about a young mother’s journey into homelessness – a hot topic given the current situation of NSW Women’s Services resulting in the closing of women’s refuges in our state.
I had tissues at the ready but it wasn’t the strong cast of Surviving Bug, who made me cry, it was the pledge I was asked to make with my fellow cine goers before it screened.
This is the powerful pledge shared daily by White Ribbon supporters, Australia’s only national, male led campaign to end men’s violence against women.
The other person who left a significant impression on me was Wendy Field, a trained social worker who started working with homeless people, primarily young people and chronically homeless women, more than 20 years ago. She is now Head of Policy and Programs for The Smith Family and is a leader with extensive insight in this area.
She started by sharing figures from the last census count: 105,237 people were homeless in Australia and nearly half of those were female – mothers and children. These are people who are ‘sleeping rough’. These are mothers who may not sleep themselves at night in order to ensure their children’s safety.
I found this figure extraordinarily high and surprising which is part of the problem because family homelessness is not something widely recognised in Australia. Many people find it difficult to believe that there are homeless families in our communities. However the reality is: Families with children are the fastest growing group of people experiencing homelessness in Australia and the primary reasons are domestic and family violence.
Taking a look at the forecast on my mobile, I see Sydney is set to go down to 13 degrees overnight and I am grateful my children will be sleeping through it, under their doonas, in the safety of our home.
So, regardless of your gender, please:
Take the White Ribbon pledge to: Never commit, condone or remain silent about violence towards women.
Educate yourself, and others, about this subject
Make a difference where you can.