Alarming result of Noosa’s ‘hidden’ homelessness
HOMELESSNESS may not immediately spring to mind when you think about the Sunshine Coast but these primary school students are learning how they can make a difference their community.
As part of a social justice program at St Thomas More, Year 6 students have been collecting donations for “Mikey” the Sunshine Coast Orange Sky Laundry van helping those doing it tough.
The mobile laundry and shower charity began five years ago and has quickly grown to a fleet of 31 vehicles in Australia and two in New Zealand.
Teacher Sasha Dye said for the students, their social justice program emphasises an important role in the community.
“As a major part of Year 6 at St Thomas More we have a social justice emphasis talking about how the kids can give back to the community and what they can do as local citizens,” Ms Dye said.
“The whole school has brought in donations and learnt a bit about what they do and hopefully this will inspire the next generation to give back to the community.”
With up to 1,600 people homeless on any given night on the Sunshine Coast, local vehicle leader Rob Scoates said there is a vast need for the service.
“Unfortunately homelessness is a hidden problem on the Sunshine Coast, unfortunately they are around in quite big numbers,” Mr Scoates said.
“We had a number of requests to have a van on the Coast, including from Noosa Council.”
Orange Sky Laundry service the Noosa area every Tuesday at Tait Duke Community Cottage from 9am—12pm and Mr Scoates said it was always busy.
“In those three hours, last Tuesday we managed to do 11 loads of washing in Noosa.”
“Not only is it giving the opportunity to have clean clothes but we sit down and have conversations with people.”
He said visiting school was one of the best ways to spread the social justice message.
“For the schools to be taught about it and learn about how the other half are struggling and doing it tough, they learn a wonderful insight of what it’s about.”
“This is why I enjoy so much coming to the schools.”
It costs roughly $120,000 to set up the basic washing van, and up to $140,000 for the hybrid shower/washing van and Mr Scoates said there are ongoing costs associated with maintaining the vehicles.
“We are limited to funding and rely on volunteers.”
Orange Sky Laundry is also an integral support link during natural disasters having recently been on hand at bushfires, floods and cyclones.