Tent City at Martin Place, Sydney.

When the Tent City was set up in Martin Place by homeless people in 2017, I was fascinated by the attention and care that had been given to its organisation.

The tents were placed at regular intervals, hot beverage tables were set up and all comers were offered free tea and coffee. The residents sat around in small groups, sharing ideas, and talking to passer-by’s like me. The experience raised the awareness of the magnitude of the housing and homelessness problem and the way it is increasing across the community. I was really distressed when the Government forced its closure, without taking any steps to deal with the reality facing us.

In 2019-20, the way that accommodation was found for people who were homeless at the height of the coronavirus lockdown, proved that homelessness is not an intractable problem.

This year, the Josephites focused on homelessness for the feast of Mary MacKillop. It provided us with the opportunities to speak out once again for those pushed to the edge by current political and economic structures.

We continue to advocate for those at risk of becoming homeless, our young JAG volunteers work with the House of Welcome to clean and prepare houses that have been given to support refugees without homes. We take pride in the fact that some of these houses have been provided by religious congregations, including our own. We continue to provide food vouchers and to work with Vinnies to provide services, as well as raise awareness of the accelerating problems facing many in our community.

This World Homeless Day (10 October), we’re invited to reflect on the material distributed for the feast of Mary MacKillop and choose one area that we could support at this time here.

Jan Barnett rsj
Josephite Justice Co-ordinator
Josephite Justice Network