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Pictured - Kellie and her daughter enjoying the beach
Pictured - Kellie and her daughter Nat, enjoying the beach

Foundations and Solid Ground

By Kellie Broderick, Executive Officer Corporate, Uniting Church in Australia, Queensland Synod.

When I think about firm foundations and solid ground, I wonder what is that is central to me, to my faith, and to my calling and the work I do.

I’m a poor sleeper. I very rarely have a solid, uninterrupted night of quality sleep.  I don’t complain about this anymore; I do comment on it sometimes as it might explain emails sent at odd hours, but generally, I’ve accepted it’s a thing, and I live with that routine.

One of the reasons I don’t complain about this is my regular chats with ‘friends’ at my Orange Sky Australia shifts – we chat about politics, weather, interests and family but often about where they’re sleeping and where they’re planning on sleeping tonight, as these friends are homeless – they keep me grounded.

A staggering 20,000 people in Queensland are experiencing homelessness – this is 1 in every 200 Queenslanders (source, Australian Bureau of Statistics). It can mean people who are sleeping rough, as well as people who are staying in temporary, unstable or substandard accommodation. 35% of those had experienced domestic and family violence, 1/3 of Queensland’s homeless population are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, and over 50% of those accessing homelessness services are under the age of 25.

The Department of Housing and Public Works (2020) – Partnering for Impact. Queensland Government. Available at: https://www.hpw.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0024/4695/partneringforimpact.pdf

It is still shocking to me how a small degree shifts people between living comfortably and being homeless. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated this shift – take my friend ‘Steven’ who lost his job in the airline industry overnight. His savings were lost quickly, covering rent and other living expenses, and he now resorts to sleeping in his car or couch surfing. Steven’s hopeful and is working towards a more stable future, having just secured a casual hospitality job.

As we know, storms will come and go, and there’s no stopping them. When the storm comes, it will test us, and what’s hidden from view will test our foundations. I’d like to encourage you to be as involved as little or as much as you can – perhaps not as extreme as Nedd Brockman from my hometown of Forbes, who ran 100kms/day – from Perth to Bondi to raise awareness! (@neddbrockmann)

There are many and various services available within Queensland to reduce homelessness and to provide services to those in need. Orange Sky Australia is one of those – the world’s first free mobile laundry service for people experiencing homelessness – an idea founded in Brisbane. We now also have some trucks equipped with showers, which is very cool. Our Story | Orange Sky Australia There’s also the Everybody’s Home campaign which has some good info and ways you can get involved Everybody’s Home (everybodyshome.com.au)

When I think about solid ground, I think about the people I have met who might need support to find their stability and foundation and how we can walk with them as they find their feet.

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