IMPACT CEO reflects on Car Boot Sleep Out

Imagine your name is Jun. You are 31 years old and you have a 10 year old son, Ben. You have left a domestic violence relationship and are staying with your sister. However, you feel unsafe staying there as your ex-partner knows where your sister lives – you also are concerned about your sister and her family’s safety. You have relied on your ex-partner’s income, and he told you he was looking after your citizenship application. 

The Newtown Neighbourhood Centre (NNC)’s ‘Car Boot Sleep Out’ presented me with this real-life scenario. I was one of 144 fundraisers who slept in their car to raise more than $170,000 for women sleeping rough in Sydney’s Inner West.  

Walking a mile in someone else’s shoes

With my new identity, I was tasked with securing housing for me and my son. Wandering through Marrickville Metro I was directed to ‘Legal’ to apply for an Apprehensive Violence Order (AVO).  

If this was real-life, I would need to go before a judge to seek a temporary AVO the next day. But for now, I needed somewhere to stay.  

Legal then referred me to ‘Welfare’; with no money to my name, I needed help. Unfortunately, as I was not a citizen I was not entitled to any funding.  

I was then referred to ‘Temporary Accommodation’ where I was quickly moved on – from memory it was because I was not a citizen, but it could also have to do with the 51,000+ applicants on the NSW housing register (6,500 of those are for people with higher needs).  

Next stop was the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre where they were able to provide me with an emergency mobile phone and temporary accommodation for one night for me and my son. I would have to start the whole process again tomorrow. 

The experience vs the reality 

The actual sleeping in my car was OK. I was very aware of the fact that I could wake up the next day, go home, have a hot shower, and log on to work a little later once the caffeine had kicked in.  

There is no such luck for those women sleeping rough who need to appear as though everything is just ‘fine and dandy’ as they make their way to work or job interviews.  

Suffering financial hardship driven by rising costs, lack of employment, limited superannuation, and a lack of affordable housing, women over 55 are the fastest growing homeless population in the Inner West.  

Thank you NNC for the experience. If it wasn’t for non-government organisations like you, the situation would be so much worse.  

If you would like to contribute to this amazing cause, please click here.


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