A Sleepbus, which will provide a safe space for the region's homeless community at night, is one step closer to reality after a fundraising goal of $100,000 was recently reached.
Last week a movie night fundraiser was held at the Moncrieff Entertainment Centre with more than $5700 raised to support the initiative.
The amount rounds off the total funds needed to ensure the Sleepbus will be built and arrive in the region just in time for next year's winter.
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.
A local fundraiser to bring a Sleepbus to the region was launched by the Bundaberg Housing and Homelessness Forum in July and quickly gained support from Bundaberg Regional Council and other local businesses.
Maria Ebert sits on the forum committee and said she was blown away with the generosity of the community.
“From our local business to the council and just some very generous residents, the support for this initiative has been astounding and I feel privileged to have been part of it all,” she said.
“This is such an important project right now.
“The housing crisis is climbing and climbing and it is really quite indiscriminatory- how people find themselves in situations where they are homeless.
“Being part of something that can help people when they are down hit a spark in me.”
Mayor Jack Dempsey said the initiative was a perfect example of community coming together to provide support for those sleeping rough.
“The Sleepbus fundraiser is a whole-of-community effort, with locals and businesses alike joining forces to raise as much money as possible to ensure this initiative is a success,” he said.
“Thank you to the Bundaberg Housing and Homelessness Forum and everyone else who donated their time and money to this wonderful project.”
Sleepbus founder Simon Rowe said now that the fundraising target had been reached, plans would be put into motion to build the Bundaberg vehicle.
“We are currently looking for a suitable bus that will become the Sleepbus,” he said.
“It takes approximately 16 to 20 weeks to build and our goal at this time is to have the Sleepbus in Bundaberg for service for winter 2023.”
Simon said when the Bundaberg service launches, it will be the tenth Sleepbus available in Australia.
He said volunteers would be responsible for supporting the running of the service in Bundaberg while Sleepbus would be providing everything else involved, thanks to ongoing donations supporting the not-for-profit organisation.
“Sleepbus owns and operates the Sleepbus service and we seek sponsorship from local businesses to support the operating costs,” he said.
“We manage the service, volunteers, training, maintenance etc.”
Keep up to date with the Bundaberg Sleepbus project here.