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Homeless Persons’ Week (HPW) is coordinated by Homelessness Australia annually to raise awareness of people experiencing homelessness. Last year had a focus on the “hidden homeless”, and HPW this year is focusing on how homelessness significantly impacts society, causes devastating personal harm, and costs the government.

Over 105,000 people in Australia are considered homeless, with 42.6% of them living in Victoria. Nearly 94% of these people don’t actually live on the streets. Most of them live in severely overcrowded houses, supported accommodation and boarding houses, or stay temporarily with friends and family. Only 6% of homeless people are visible, sleeping on park benches or under rustic shelters.

This year, the Homelessness Support Program (HSP) at Gippsland Lakes Complete Health (GLCH) is teaming up with the Bairnsdale Lions Club to operate a free BBQ as part of Homeless Person’s Week 2014. They join over 50 other events across Australia, ranging from school and community sleepouts, to soup kitchens and awareness breakfasts, to homelessness expos. The sausage sizzle will be cooked by the Bairnsdale Lions Club, and HSP staff will be on hand with information regarding services relating to homelessness in the local area, highlighting, in particular, the hidden homeless. As well as the BBQ, HSP will produce an art installation to highlight the issue of “couch surfing”, one of the many strategies homeless people and families resort to when they are unable to find a permanent residence.

The BBQ and Art Installation will occur from 10am to 2pm on: Thursday 7th August, Nicholson Street Mall, Bairnsdale.

Members of the Homelessness Support Program team will be available to chat with the public to share the work that they do with the homeless people locally. GLCH will also be encouraging the public to register for “Anywhere but a Bed”, which is an initiative where individuals register, and for one night sleep somewhere other than their own bed, in an effort to raise awareness of homelessness and raise the profile of homelessness.