Students throughout the whole school are currently studying the concept of ‘social justice’ as part of their integrated learning.
Last Thursday evening our Year 5 and 6 students were fortunate enough to be offered an opportunity to reflect a little more deeply on the very pressing social justice issue of homelessness.
The estimated number of people experiencing homelessness on any one night in Western Australia according to the latest census, is over 9000 people!
We listened to some deeply moving personal stories on an ABC iview program that both challenged and debunked steroetypes of who was homeless, and illuminated some of the causes of homelessness.
We discovered a wide variety of people who found themselves in this situation. We also learnt that the factors contributing to homelessness, while similar, were also varied – from substance abuse, family abuse and violence, relationship breakdowns, lack of connection to family support, job loss, death of a spouse or family member, mental illness, financial hardship and more …
We discovered that when you are hungry and you have no other options, soup and bread taste really awesome – for both dinner and lunch the next day! Thank you parents for your wonderful donations – really appreciated.
We discussed ideas such as vulnerability, shame, generosity, empathy, kindness, and more…
We listened to Tim Guest, a friend of Miss Thomas’ who slept on the streets for 10 days and shared his experience on an SBS TV documentary.
Homelessness Week is an annual week coordinated by Homelessness Australia to raise awareness of people experiencing homelessness, the issues they face and the action needed to achieve enduring solutions. Homelessness Week came about from various churches and missions running winter vigils to remember people who had died on the streets. These vigils were normally held in August as it is the coldest time of the year and when most people were likely to be overcome by the elements. Over the years, more churches became involved and in 2007 Homelessness Australia began coordinating it as a national awareness week.
In 2019, Homelessness Week was last week 4th -10th August with a theme, “Housing Ends Homelessness’’. Homelessness Australia encourages the community to get active as citizens to call on political leaders to make the changes needed to end homelessness.
We believe the students gained much from the experience. Thank you to those parents who emailed to let us know the impact the opportunity had for their child and for your follow up discussions about the issue and what we might be able to continue to do to raise awareness and to act.