Sunshine Coast residents are being encouraged to experience Nambour Community Centre’s photographic exhibition – Changing Perceptions on Homelessness that opens next week.
It comes as Homelessness Week (2-7 August) is about to begin, shining the spotlight on the more than 120,000 people who are homeless every night in Australia. Census data* reported 785 people were identified as experiencing homelessness on the Sunshine Coast.
Sunshine Coast Council funded the exhibition with a grant provided through the March round of its Major Grants program.
Photographer Claire Reynolds said the exhibition featured 20 portraits with accompanying text depicting the subject’s story.
“We asked each person if you could tell the world one thing about yourself, what would it be?” Ms Reynolds said.
“Each person interpreted the question differently. Khan said, ‘Tell the world we appreciate it.’ While Jesse said, ‘I’m a peaceful guy and a mad-keen fisherman.’
“I found this project challenging as not many people experiencing homelessness want to be ‘the face of homelessness’ so to speak.
“It was tough hearing a lot of heartbreaking stories. It made me realise that homelessness can happen to anybody. Sometimes it’s just an unlucky roll of the dice.
“We wanted to put a personal and empowering face to the issue to make people think twice.”
Nambour Community Centre Community Development Coordinator Ana Greenfield said they wanted to build a campaign that inspired empathy and compassion for people.
“Homelessness can impact people of different ages and backgrounds and it’s often hidden,” Ms Greenfield said.
“You might walk past homeless people every day and not realise they are homeless. It may only be a few nights, or stretch out to several years. Everyone is on a different journey.
“We already have a compassionate community and people are very happy to help out. However homelessness is growing and we need to be innovative about how we can create solutions to support people on the ground and come up with more stable solutions to long-term housing.”
Mayor Mark Jamieson said council acknowledged homelessness was a key community issue for our region that required a collaborative regional response.
“In February, the second Homelessness Roundtable was held with representatives from key State Government agencies, community organisations and community housing providers. The Roundtables are a means to improve collaborative responses in our region,” Mayor Jamieson said.
“Through the relationships built at the Roundtable, council has been able to partner with the State Government’s Department of Housing and IFYS Ltd to deliver a COVID-19 Housing Crisis Response.
“From the beginning of May to late June, council also provided use of the Sunshine Coast Stadium as a Homelessness Hub. During this time, 306 vulnerable individuals visited the Hub to access housing and homelessness services, a hot shower, wash their clothes and have a hot meal.”
Community Portfolio Councillor David Law said council was committed to supporting homelessness solutions within the region.
“Council will continue to work beside our community partners to support people who are homeless, sleeping rough or at risk of homelessness. We will use the outcomes from Housing Crisis Response to advocate to other levels of government to ensure the necessary resources for affordable housing options and support services are available in our community,” Cr Law said.
“I am proud to support the Changing Perceptions on Homelessness photographic exhibition which has collaborated with people experiencing homelessness in a sensitive way to tell their story.”
The exhibition at C-Square runs from 4-13 August from 10am to noon, with pop-up activities daily at 10.30am. Everyone is invited to attend and your involvement will help to raise awareness of homelessness, reduce stigma, challenge stereotypes and promote advocacy for our homelessness community.
Visitors will be required to comply with appropriate COVID-19 restrictions and asked not to visit if feeling unwell.