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The human cost of homelessness

Homelessness matters. On any given night across Australia over 116,000 people are experiencing homelessness. Over 40% are young people and children. This number has increased by 27,000 people over the past decade and continues to climb.

Homelessness matters. The risk of death on the streets is affected by substance abuse or mental illness. Physical health conditions are more likely to lead to an early death for people experiencing homelessness.

The difficulty in getting rest, maintaining medications, eating well, staying clean and staying warm prolong and exacerbate illnesses, sometimes to the point where they are life threatening.

Homelessness matters. Life on the streets is dangerous. People experiencing homelessness can die on the streets from violence. Often unprovoked.

People experiencing homelessness that flee domestic and family violence can still be subjected to ongoing abuse that does not cease until they die from violence they are fleeing.

People that experience homelessness matter. Homelessness is a tragedy.

Today our hearts ache as we remember the many people who are no longer with us. Those who have died due to their experiences of homelessness.

Homelessness is wrong and we cannot accept it. Every person has the right to adequate food, housing, clothing and health care. All people have the right to participate in the decisions affecting their lives. The struggle to end homelessness and alleviate its consequences takes many forms, including efforts to insure adequate housing, health care, and access to meaningful work. As Australians, we all have the responsibility to ensure our country honestly cares about housing and homelessness and adequately address the many barriers thousands of Australians face that lead to homelessness. No one should experience homelessness. No one should die from homelessness.

There are thousands of horrific stories that people experiencing homelessness can tell. The true nature and affect many of these stories have are unknown, not understood and silent from community knowledge and awareness.

Homelessness is far more complicated than providing a person with a house.

They need more than loose change, a cup of coffee or a blanket.

People that struggle in our society deserves our attention, our support, our compassion, that will truly and honestly make a difference in their lives for the long term.

We gather together to bring attention to the shame of homelessness and how it robs our neighbours, our community members, our people of their hope and their lives— We will remember you.

To each of you who has perished from experiencing homelessness—this year and in previous years— We will remember you.

To those who have been lost on our city streets, in the alley ways, abandoned buildings, and sometimes even in our hearts— We will remember you.

For your strength, your courage and your perseverance, we will celebrate your life and mourn your loss. Lest we never forget your struggle—We will remember you.

In your memory we will rekindle hope and recommit ourselves to fight for the cause. We will work as individuals, through organisations and as part of our communities, to put an end to homelessness, now and forever.—We will remember you.

In your memory we will seek to change the way things are. We will always remember you.