When people ask me what I've learned most from Mobilise, I often struggle to articulate it as it's such a paradox. I entered this project thinking I’d be able to make a difference by helping those struggling and giving them information about what to do, in fact it is I who have been learning each time I head out. Those I’ve met have taught me more about life, resilience and resourcefulness than I could have ever anticipated. Having the opportunity to talk to them and having so many people open up to us with their stories has been the greatest blessing and I truly feel so privileged to have this opportunity.
From these experiences if I had to break down what I’d learnt, I've learnt that the most important factor for long-term change is education.The opportunity for education and development for those on the streets to help break out of their situation but most importantly, I believe re-education for society as a whole. For any long-term change, it’s critical that we adjust our mindset and how we view those less-fortunate. It’s through this re-framing that we will find the opportunity to make a change and develop long-term solutions.
It seems such a basic thing to say but I think so many people are quick to blame others for their situations instead of examining the underlining factors that may have caused them. Many people instantly assume “Oh those people are on the streets, they must be drug addicts or alcoholics”, in fact both from my experience on the streets but also the facts & figures this is simply not true. 1/4 of those who are homeless in Australia are due to family or domestic violence with financial difficulties & the housing crisis accounting for another 1/3 of those. In fact drug & alcohol abuse account for only 15% of those seeking homeless support, not in the top 3 reasons that people find themselves out on the street.
One of the most interesting notions I’ve developed from my time out on the streets is that substance use is a symptom of the homeless problem & NOT the cause of homelessness. There are always reasons for why people who are struggling make the choices they do just to survive. I hope going forward, with the videos we provide, telling the stories of those on the streets, people will begin to understand some of these choices.
Along with this, on a practical level, we must make a definitive effort to remember that all those on the streets are just like us, they have hopes & dreams. Often we walk past them without even acknowledging them, with some people even treating them with disdain. All these people are humans with feelings and emotions and they feel all that they experience, for so many it’s enough of a struggle to survive day to day without people looking down on them. If someone is below you, give them a helping hand up.
Lets be the generation that together makes a difference, no one deserves to be left behind.