Homeless Lives Matter:  Program 2 –  Homeless Voices

CD1:  INTRO SOUND TRACK:   Ursula ‘Awakening’, Track 13  (7.35)


This program is Room with a View featuring new programs.  In the last hour you were listening to the Grapevine with Judith Peppard.  This program is called Homeless Lives Matter, my name is Susan Carew. The motto of this program is ‘home is where the heart is’.

Homeless Lives Matter aims to give a voice to those homeless and to tackle the real issues of homelessness in our society.  I have been homeless for 2 years and have experienced the stigma, the barriers and social exclusion. I have been unable to access homelessness services as I am not on any income.

Homeless Lives Matter is dedicated to the memory of Courtney Herron who struggled with homelessness and mental health issues and whose life was tragically ended this year.  The program is also inspired by Dr. Patch Adams, the American clown doctor who was made famous by Robin Williams in the Hollywood film, his story is about overcoming depression and suicide to discover healing through humour and that laughter is the best medicine.

So, why are people homeless?  

  • Domestic and family violence, this is the largest single cause of homelessness in Australia (Australian Government, 2008a).
  • The chronic shortage of affordable and available rental housing
  • Intergenerational poverty
  • Financial crisis
  • Long term unemployment
  • Economic and social exclusion
  • Severe and persistent mental illness and psychological distress
  • Exiting state care or exiting prison
  • Severe overcrowding

This crisis is not the fault of those homeless it is a national emergency that requires a crisis response and long term solutions.  We can come together when people lose homes through fires, why not homelessness?

Homelessness is a serious matter that is growing. It impacts human rights or what I term the right to be human.  This is a quote from Julie Bishop the former Foreign Minister speaking to the UN Human Rights Council:  (I quote)

“I can assure you, Mr President, that Australia’s commitment to human rights goes to the core of who we are as a nation and we look forward to advancing these values on this Council in 2019….”

The lack of safe and secure housing can lead to human rights violations including violations against the right to freedom from discrimination, the right to liberty and security of person, the right to privacy, the right to health, the right to education and the most important, the right to shelter.  Human rights are protected by a number of international human rights treaties including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment of Punishment (CAT), The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Australia has signed and ratified these treaties.  

Today is the 16th December which is the anniversary of The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966, 1976).  This charter is in recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family as the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world. It recognises freedom from fear and want, universal respect and the self determination of people. 

Homeless Lives Matter observes Articles 11 and 12. 

Article 11  Part 1 …recognizes the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions.

Part 2. …recognises the fundamental right of everyone to be free from hunger…

Article 12: Part 1. …recognizes the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.

So let’s have a look at key statistics to understand the reality for the most marginalised Australians. These statistics are sourced from the Council to the Homeless and Homelessness Australia.  Did you know…

  • That across Australia there are 116,427 people homeless tonight;
  • In Victoria 24,817 people will be homeless tonight.  
    • They include: families with children, young people, older people, single adults & people with disabilities.
  • Homelessness in Australia has increased 13.7% in 5 years according to the ABS  (2016).
  • The highest percentage of homeless people or 1 in 5 (20%) are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. 
  • Rough sleepers represent 7% of all homeless nationally, they are the tip of the iceberg.
  • Approximately 17,845 are children under the age of 10, and 402 children are sleeping out
  • 1 in every 10 homeless or 14% (Census) are 55 years of age or more.  This is a 28% increase and growing.
  • Older women are the fastest growing group more than 6,866 are homeless (2016)
  • So how many are waiting for social housing?
    • Across Australia in 2017 approximately 189,400 households were waiting for social housing (30/6/17). 
      In Victoria, there are 40,000 households on the public housing waiting list (82,500 individuals)
  • In Victoria, Homelessness services turn away 90 people per day

We can learn about the issues but until you wind up without a home you cannot know the reality on the ground.  Society walks past these issues but it is time to really stop and look at this problem.  It is not about funding but rather income inequality and a lack of morality and compassion.  It is about who we are as a Nation. It requires the political, social and cultural will of all of us to reclaim equality and take responsibility for what has gone wrong.  Homelessness is everyone’s responsibility.  One day it could be you.  

Coming up in the program are the voices of those actually homeless, those with lived experienced and members of the public giving their opinion on homelessness. 

But first, let’s go to station messages.  The time is…

Station messages    

CD2:  Melbourne group Divine Light Orchestra, new single ‘Legacy’ (6.00)




(TIME) You are listening to Homeless Lives Matter, I am Susan Carew and this is Triple R 102.7

Interview 1 – Aunty Shirley Firebrace:
Indigenous homelessness, hardship, funding and solidarity

This interview I will play for you was recorded at the Victorian Homelessness Conference held here in Melbourne on the 18 October 2019.  20% of all homeless people are from Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander cultures. Therefore, the first word goes to Aunty Shirley Firebrace.  Let’s hear her voice.

T1: Aunty Shirley Firebrace (Closing the Gap, Victorian Homelessness Conference 18/10/19) (5.27)

You have been listening to Aunty Shirley Firebrace who raised issues of long term homelessness for her people and worsening conditions. Therefore, The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination would be the focus for the Australian Government.

Interview 2 – Trevor Brown
Bullying, lack of opportunity, death of mother (4/11/19)

The next interview is with Trevor who has lived experience of homelessness.  Here is an excerpt from his story…

T2: Trevor part 1:  Early Life in Bright, bullying, lack of opportunity and death of his mother    (6.10)

You have been listening to Trevor.  So bullying, lack of opportunities and a family death created the conditions for homelessness. Therefore, The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Articles 11 and 12 would be the focus in his case.

Interview 3 –Trevor Brown
Van, Story, Suicide, Survival (4/11/19)

He speaks about sleeping in his van and his experience of homelessness…

T3: Trevor part 2:  Van, Story, Suicide, Survival  (6.36)

Trevor makes some interesting comments about people’s attitudes about getting over his mother’s death but not  talking about the other things that troubled him.  He placed himself in isolation so he could get away from society.  He bravely revealed the characters that he wrote about which saved his life and as he said linked to what he is doing now.  Creativity helped him get out the negative feelings. Walking and being out in nature was healing for him. His decision to end his life was calm and peaceful. He spoke of how the characters screamed at him, he couldn’t make sense of them but he recognised that creativity kept him from entering that darkness.

Trevor went to the edge of death but came out of it.  Now he is on Boards representing homeless people and an ambassador with the Council to the Homeless.  Given the bullying he experienced The Convention on the Rights of the Child and The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment of Punishment (CAT) could apply in his case.


CD3:  Ursula ‘Awakening’, “Heaven is Open” Track 8    (58 secs)

 T4: Interview 4 – Macca
Death of Child, Drugs and Homelessness (4/11/19)

The next interview is with Macca who is in his 40’s who I met homeless on Swanston Street, Melbourne. 

T4 Macca:  Homeless on the Streets of Melbourne (4.10)

Macca revealed there are problems in the relationships between the police and the homeless. He regarded it as a war and didn’t think it would change.  He pointed out what improves relations such as helping them get accommodation and showing real care.   He said they just need a container with beds in it.  Clearly mental health issues of bereavement caused homelessness and the right to shelter would is a key issue.

Interview 5 – Karenza (part 1)
Health and Homelessness (25/10/19)

The next interview is with Karenza who is in her 40’s who I met sitting on Swanston street, Melbourne

T5 Karena:  Homeless on the Streets of Melbourne   (6.45)

Karenza’s homelessness is caused by her health crisis. She needs a life saving liver transplant and experienced no support services. She stated she was refused Centrelink due to no fixed address.  The hospital discharging her aware that she is homeless is alarming.  She made important points about the lack of security at the Salvation Army in the city.  This raises key issues of respect, duty of care, security and equality before law.  The theme running through her story is a lack of care for her wellbeing. It was her mother that saved the day.  What happens when you have no-one?

Interview 6 – Naomi
Random Act of Kindness, Stigma, Love (25/10/19)

The next interview is with the public.  I witnessed Naomi give to a homeless person on the street.

T6 Naomi: Random act of kindness   (1.35)

I would like to thank my guests for bravely sharing their stories…

Aunty Shirley Firebrace

Trevor Brown




Homeless Lives Matter is asking the community to donate food and goodies for Christmas hampers 4 homeless people.  You can visit my website Happiness Australia 

There are solutions on the website and I am looking for people in the community to help me build the Courtney’s Patch ecovillage to end homelessness for 50 women and girls. Let’s end homelessness together.

Email me Susan Carew at 

Thank you for listening to Homeless Lives Matter, I am Susan Carew and this is Triple R 102.7.  


Home is where the heart is!