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Homelessness is not an identity

Vicky never imagined she would experience homelessness.

She had worked since she was 14 years of age, had a husband, children, and money, everything she needed and wanted. Until she found herself fleeing domestic violence, and the spiral of having nowhere to live with her children began.

My Name Is… Project is a joint initiative of Bayside, Kingston and Port Phillip Councils that, with support from Council to Homeless Persons, and 6 inspiring individuals that have experienced homelessness, are placing homelessness under the spotlight to dispel the myths that surround it.

On any given night, more than 24,000 Victorians do not have a permanent place to sleep. Across the three Councils, there are almost 1,600 people who are homeless. They may be sleeping on the street, on a friend’s couch, or in a car or crisis accommodation.

The 6 participants have shared their stories which highlight how homelessness can happen to anyone. It is complex, diverse and often caused by structural inequality, not individual fault.

Six very different stories

The experiences of the 6 participants challenge the stereotypes that ‘homeless people’ are usually older men sleeping on a park bench. The reality is, people experiencing homelessness are more likely to be young, female or children. Sleeping on the street represents a very small percentage of the homeless population.

Many people who are experiencing homelessness have otherwise ordinary lives, but they do not have a permanent place to live. The highest rate of people experiencing homelessness are women and children escaping domestic violence.

The My Name Is…Project is based on evidence that these stereotypes and stigmas have a profound and negative impact on how the community responds to people who are homeless.

Hi, My Name Is Vicky...I have experienced homelessness

 

I am a Mother of 2 boys and a girl. I have previously completed a Diploma of Community Services and deliver training at ITHEA. I absolutely love my job because I get to interact with different people and different cultures. I also get to train our future workers, it makes me so happy when I get to see a quiet student gain confidence and easily do presentations about community services.

I also have a second job delivering motor scooters to people with a disability/elderly or anyone in need. In my spare time (which there is not much of with 2 boys and a girl) I like to hang out with my family and enjoy each day.

I’ve worked all over the place in the community sector, City of Melbourne being one, as I am a member on the Homelessness Advisory Committee. I’ve also spoken to parliament at Canberra when it proposed stopping the pension for single mothers.

People shouldn’t make assumptions about the type of person who might lose their home. Homelessness can happen to anyone. I pledge my support to those in need, I hope you do too.

How to help

Help dispel misconceptions about homelessness by learning the facts. Visit the Council Council to Homeless Persons' website and share your learnings on social media with the hashtag #mynameisau.

Hi, My Name Is Joal...I have experienced homelessness

 

The first two letters from my name are from my Mum's name, Jodi and the last two letters from my name are from my Dad's, Alberto. 

I always ask people what your name would have been if your Mum was as creative with your name.

I've been a makeup artist for the past 4 years, working in photography studios, runway shows and awards nights. I love working in the industry because makeup is for everyone and it transforms a person and enhances their natural beauty. I think everyone is beautiful in their own way, especially the colour of our eyes.

Even though I love working as a makeup artist, it's more of a weekend job so I've decided to go into social work. I work at a housing service three days a week. I love building rapport with people and to develop supportive relationships. 

No matter what job I'm doing, coffee gets me through the day. I can't live without coffee. I also have 2 amazing daughters who are 10 and 3 years of age. They are totally different people. One follows the rules and the other is very naughty. They each have a little bit of me in them.

The perfect day for the girls and I would be spending it by a swimming pool, heading to the movies or grabbing lunch and eating on the beach.

It is not a type of person who loses their home, we need to stop the stigma and make room for compassion instead, working in unity to bring about change. Simple things like saying “hello” to a person who is homeless, is a step in the right direction.

How to help

Share your strengths such as expertise, material goods or donations and encourage your friends and family to do the same.

Hi, My Name Is Trevor... I have experienced homelessness

 

I’m a videographer. I decided to become a videographer after receiving High Distinction marks for every subject of my Creative Arts degree at Victoria University. Getting the degree was tough because I had to complete my VCE with the Centre for Adult Education while living out of the back of my Toyota Hiace Van for 5 years.

Even though I was experiencing homelessness when I was studying I still got A or A+ in every subject (and 96% in Psychology!) and passed with honours. I’m pretty proud of that because I obviously did not have somewhere to shower or use the internet for the whole time I was studying.

Now that I’ve finished studying I’ve got a little bit more time which I spend by volunteering with the SES and playing pool with my mates. I’m also planning on walking the Alpine Walking Track in 2020 which is 680km long. I’ll probably listen to a lot of music on the walk. I love music and have an eclectic taste. I’ll listen to the music from the movie Twilight to go to sleep but other times I love ACDC.

You never really know who is homeless. If more people took the time to learn what homelessness is, it would remove many barriers and encourage change.

How to help

Offer employment and training opportunities in your business or organisation to give a chance to someone who really needs it.

Hi, My Name Is Luis... I have experienced homelessness

 

I can tell you about my Bachelor in Journalism and my Masters in Information Technology I got from an Australian university. I can tell you about how I received  my license as an amateur radio operator (I'm ACMA certified). I can even tell you how to properly shoot a bow and arrow (I'm a trained member of an Australia official archery club). I came here as an immigrant and I'm currently working for the local government, helping to make Australia a better place, for you, for me, for our loved ones.

Now, if you want to know how I survived my darkest days living in the streets of Melbourne with nothing but a few blankets and a burning desire to make it through without letting depression and hopelesness take over me, you will have to dig a little deeper.

You see? Making assumptions about the type of person who might lose their home is never good. Today, I pledge my support to those in need because I, too, "was there" and I know how hard can it be sometimes to ask for help.

The streets taught me that usually the people who don’t look like they need support are the ones who need it the most. It’s pride and it’s hard to swallow. Ask for help. Give support. We need you.

How to help

Volunteer to help reduce and eliminate homelessness within the community. Find out about volunteering in Bayside.

Hi, My Name Is Nigel... I have experienced homelessness

 

I have just two units to go before I complete a double Diploma in Community Development and Community Services. When I’m not studying I like to go swimming and travelling. I recently got back from the UK, Netherlands and Spain where a lot of my friends live.

I love going to the movies and one day I would love to write and direct movies. Six years ago I would have said that my favourite film maker was Quentin Tarantino, but nowadays I’m not really sure, there are so many great directors and writers.

I used to be a chef until I had a series of heart attacks and they had to fly me interstate for treatment. It turned out that I have an immune condition and was admitted into the Anti-Cancer centre. When I was discharged from the Centre I had nowhere to stay so I became homeless.

This was the trigger to my becoming homeless, not drugs or alcohol. Conversations about homelessness must change to remove the stigma and the ‘us’ and ‘them’ mentality.

How to help

Support the call for a fairer housing system for all Australians by signing on to the Everybody’s Home campaign.

Hi, My Name Is Shane... I have experienced homelessness

 

This is my dog, Holly. We’ve been together for 14 years and she’s my best friend.

When I was a kid my Mum took me to the air show and ever since then I’ve really loved planes, astronomy and anything to do with space. I have a huge collection of space paraphernalia like stamps, movies, posters and books. I know a heap about space and could talk all day about all the stuff I know. Even my favourite movies (Serenity and Star Trek Conquest) are set in space.

When I’m not collecting or watching movies I love to cook and share the food with my neighbours. My favourite dishes are bolognaise, stews and lasagne.

I’ve always believed that if you are good to people they will be good to me, so I always try to make people feel welcome and happy.

I would love it if the voices of people who are homeless were heard to drown out the factual inaccuracies, it’s not helping anyone.

Find out more about the project: My Name Is