Safe, temporary overnight accommodation for people sleeping rough is the ambitious fundraising goal launched through a collaboration of local organisations.
To make a sleepbus a reality for the Bundaberg Region the Bundaberg Housing and Homelessness Forum hopes to raise $100,000.
Sleepbus is an Australian-based innovation which provides immediate, temporary support for homelessness by creating a safe, comfortable place to sleep.
Each Sleepbus can provide up to 20 people a sleep “pod” with toilet, climate control, reading light, USB chargers and free-to-air digital television and support services channel.
Anyone seeking a safe bed for the night on Sleepbus doesn’t need a referral or to book ahead, they just turn up between 8. 30 pm and 10 pm.
Pets are also welcome in sleep pods with their owners.
Bundaberg Housing and Homelessness Forum co-chairperson Justin McNellie said, in a regular discussion, members of the forum had raised the concept.
“We are always looking for and advocating for more long term, sustainable and affordable housing options, both from the Government and the private sector,” Mr McNellie said.
“In saying that, we recognise that there is no single solution to the housing and homelessness problem.
“Instead, we recognise there are many small solutions that are needed to end homelessness and support those at risk of homelessness, Sleepbus being a crucial part of that solution for those in the greatest need in Bundaberg.
“Homelessness in the Bundaberg Region has reached a critical level, with individuals and even families experiencing homelessness every night.
“The forum got into contact with Sleepbus founder Simon Rowe, who was really enthusiastic to help.
“Sleepbus was developed by Simon, operating in Queanbeyan, Canberra and Maroochydore, with more planned around Australia.
“The initiative started in Melbourne and is working its way up the coast.
“Hervey Bay is about to get theirs.”
The main Sleepbus mantra is ‘sleep changes everything’.
Sleepbus founder Simon Rowe said not having access to a safe place to sleep put people at risk both physically and mentally.
“Let's face it, you can’t actually ‘sleep’ on the street, and this is where sleep deprivation kicks in and magnifies those risks,” Mr Rowe said.
“Every. Single. Day a person is on the street, the harder and harder it becomes to find a pathway out.
“When a person gets access to a safe place to sleep, things can change quickly.
“It can improve mental and physical health, decrease associated medical expenses and help make a pathway out of homelessness a little easier to see.”
Mr McNellie said it would cost $100,000 to bring a Sleepbus permanently to Bundaberg.
“Once the Sleepbus is here, private donors cover the operating costs,” he said.
“The Sleepbus has a designated parking spot where it stays for the night from 8 pm until 8 am.”
Movie fundraiser to help bring Sleepbus to Bundaberg
The community can get behind the initiative by making a tax-deductible donation online or by attending an upcoming movie fundraiser event.
“We hope the community gets behind our movie fundraising screening of A Street Cat Named Bob, on at 4 pm Saturday 6 August at the Moncrieff Entertainment Centre,” Mr McNellie said.
“General tickets are $10, but we are also offering a VIP experience, with gourmet catering, for $100.
“We’ll have a giant raffle there, the chance for people to donate on the day and will also be collecting non-perishables for those who are sleeping rough.”
Tickets for the Sleepbus fundraiser event can be purchased from the Moncrieff Entertainment Centre online, at 177 Bourbong Street, Bundaberg or by calling 4130 4100.
Businesses interested in sponsoring the Sleepbus initiative can find out more here.
Member organisations of the Bundaberg Housing and Homelessness Forum include community, government, non-government, not for profit organisations and interested residents.
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There’s actually only a handful of visible homeless in Bundaberg. Most of the rest who make up the numbers are couch surfers that actually have a temporary roof already staying at mates places. If we do get sleep buses maybe it should only be 1 to start with so places with alot more visible homeless can be prioritized.
A more permanent homeless shelter is probably more needed in the long run as the area grows.
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