Students sleep rough to help the homeless

Victoria Vassallo took part in the sleep-out to raise money. Picture: Kristian Scott

For tens of thousands of Victorians, a home is a corner on the side of a road or a damp spot under a bridge.

There’s no fireplace to escape the winter blast or an airconditioner to escape the scalding heat in summer. Coming home doesn’t mean being welcomed with a hot chicken soup or the luxury of lazing around.

For our homeless, how long has it been since they called somewhere home, or how long before they call a place home again?

To raise awareness of the plight of 22,773 men, women and children experiencing homelessness in Victoria, students and staff at Catholic Regional College slept rough last Friday night as part of the St Vincent de Paul Victoria’s School and Community Sleepout.

Twenty-three students and five staff slept at the school hall, with no heating and heard from guest speakers from Victoria Police and Macaulay Women’s Health.

Teacher Margaret Rowe-Watts said the overnight sleepout encouraged students to appreciate what they had, with the simplest being a warm bed.

“[I’m doing this] for two reasons,” Ms Rowe-Watts said.

“One is to provide an opportunity for students to help others and gain an appreciation of the wonderful things we have. The second is to raise funds.”

Ms Rowe-Watts said the school, which is heavily involved in social justice programs, was all about carrying out its “Catholic ethos”.

“Our faith is based on the fact that we should do good for others,” she said.

Ms Rowe-Watts said the students and staff also spent a few hours of the night outside, before heading home at 7am on Saturday.

“It’s an amazing effort from the kids and wonderful to have their parents’ support,” she said.