While walking across Hobart Place in Civic last Monday morning at 8.00am in zero degrees temperature on the way to work, I came across a person curled up in what passed for a sleeping bag on the concrete floor of the shelter opposite the entrance to the AMP Building.
I say ‘person’ because it wasn’t possible to discern the gender of the unfortunate occupant of the sleeping bag.
I was confronted by this but, like the Priest and the Levite in the Parable, and everybody else hurrying to find warmth, I passed by.
But the encounter remains in my mind. In the current asylum seeker debate, the issue of homelessness and accommodation for those who sleep rough in Australia seems to have faded from the media gaze. Yet there are some 105,000 homeless people in Australia (2011 Census), of whom some 14,000, for reasons associated with poverty, violence, substance addiction and poor mental health, sleep rough.
Where in Canberra can homeless people, especially those sleeping rough, go for help?