Homelessness is a topic which sadly receives little mainstream media attention, but it’s one that became a reality for nursing student and single mum Steph Rouillon.
She says she was inspired to organise a homeless fundraiser after finding herself evicted from a long-term permanent rental and given only two weeks to find a new home.
The event will take place on Saturday September 21 at Apex Park in Byron Bay.
‘As a single mother my budget was small and what was on offer for permanent rentals in the Byron area was even smaller. Since roadworks have commenced on the bypass, the rental market has been consumed by the road workers, leaving locals with slim pickings.’
She says that now she is nearing the completion of a diploma in youth work, she has some insight into the community services in Byron Shire. ‘The waiting list for commission housing is 20 years! There is limited emergency housing and many families, women and young men may be uncomfortable in approaching this type of refuge for assistance and would choose their car over seeking refuge.
‘So I decided the community needed to come together and stand up for a change that we are all a part of.’
And thus ‘Songs for Swags’ was born. The aim is to raise funds and awareness for the Shire’s homeless, with an afternoon of live music and family fun.
‘Six bands and musicians will be donating their time to play in the afternoon and the wonderful Tommy Franklin will be MC,’ Ms Rouillon says. ‘A large number of local Byron Bay businesses have already donated towards an amazing raffle!
‘Swags For Homeless (swags.org.au) will be the suppliers for the donated swags.’ She says the swags will be donated to the Fletcher Street Cottage drop-in centre to eligible candidates.
Those at risk of homelessness in the region can contact Byron Emergency Accommodation Project (BEAP) on 6685 8477.