Notre Dame Social Justice students help raise awareness of ‘Homelessness’

Document Type

Media Release

Publication Date

Spring 29-10-2008

Publisher Name

The University of Notre Dame, Fremantle Campus

Publication Place



Social Justice students from The University of Notre Dame Australia’s Fremantle Campus hosted a variety of activities including a group ‘Sleep out’ and a presentation by the University’s Dean of Medicine, Professor Gavin Frost, on The Economics of Homelessness to highlight the issues associated with being homeless in Australia.

The activities were held from 13 October until 17 October as part of Anti-Poverty Week which is a national initiative. Anti-Poverty Week was established in Australia as an expansion of the United Nation's annual International Anti-Poverty Day on October 17.

Professor Frost presented as part of the University’s Conversations on Tap series which is held four times a year. The series raises awareness of various social justice issues.In addition to Professor Frost, Mr Wyn Williams, Chief Executive Officer June O’Connor Centre (Inc) and School of Business Adjunct Professor for Not-For-Profit Leadership and Management, Professor David Gilchrist also presented.

Professor Gilchrist addressed homelessness versus affordable housing, covering issues such as the increasing cost of living, rising rents, the need for emergency and crisis accommodation, mental health and access available for mental health and how this affects pensioners, youth, aged, unemployed people and people released from prison.

“In terms of affordable housing, there are currently 17,500 people on the housing waiting list for the Department of Housing and Works in Western Australia and those people are spread right through our regions, right through rural Western Australia and the metropolitan area,” said Professor Gilchrist.

Mr Williams covered the area of mental illness in relation to homelessness. He spoke about the June O’Connor Centre which is a ‘drop in centre’ with currently four locations. The Centre began as a ‘drop in centre’ for people with mental illness with around 400 members 10 years ago.

“We now have over 2300 registered members; a number of those members are living on the streets,” said Mr Williams.

Dr Frost spoke about the economics side of homelessness and how this relates to the health care system.

“How many homeless people are there in Australia?” began Dr Frost. “Firstly, no one knows.”

“Every night in Australia 725 people who seek urgent emergency accommodation are turned away,” said Dr Frost.

After the Conversations on Tap session, a group of social justice students prepared for their sleep-out. Students spent four nights ‘sleeping rough’ to help raise awareness for staff, students and local community members. Throughout the week, local community businesses such as Freo Street Doctor, Mobile Health Clinic; St Pat’s Gimme Shelter; Edmund Rice Centre; The Big Issue and the Australian Red Cross promoted their work to students.

Media contact:

Rebecca Cassidy 08 9433 0611, 0408 959 138