Thursday, January 26th, 2012

Most Australians would agree that one thing that sets us apart as a nation is our innate desire to help a mate – it’s in our DNA and permeates our lifestyle in many different ways. Nowhere is this more evident than when Australians dig deep to help those in less fortunate circumstances than themselves.

"To acknowledge the amazing lengths some Australians have gone to help others, we’ve launched our ‘Australia Day Heroes’ programme,” announced Mr Tony Clark, Chairman and Founder of Swags for Homeless (2011 Australian Human Rights Winner).

One hero, John Dunn, a 12-year-old boy from Sydney, chose to forgo birthday presents to raise donations for street sleeping homeless. John succeeded in collecting $2000 and as a result has become the Swags for Homeless - 2012 Australia Day Hero - Young Hero of the Year Award.

Swags for Homeless, 2012 Australia Day Heroes also include:

  •     MELBOURNE ex-homeless man who slept under a bridge for a year advocates the homeless crisis
  •     PERTH ex-homeless person who selflessly arranged street tours and advocates homeless rights
  •     PERTH University student raising money to help every rough sleeper in Perth

Mr Tony Clark said “With no government funding we rely on ordinary people doing amazing things to help homeless. In 2011, some very special individuals went beyond volunteering and showed astounding sacrifice to help street sleeping homeless. Australians help their mates. All of our Australia Day Heroes assisted Swags for Homeless in our work to save the lives of homeless turned away from shelters empty handed”.

Swags for Homeless provides Backpack Bed to street sleeping homeless turned away from shelters. Backpack Beds are study proven and a three time globally award winning product design - distributed via 140+ charities around Australia.

The 3000 Backpack Beds distributed over the last year or so, Mr Clark says falls well short of the required 21,000 yearly needed to assist homeless across Australia. Tony said “Due to a lack of funding we had to turn away 39 organisations in 2011 who pleaded to be part of our study proven Backpack Bed program, it’s heartbreaking.”

“As well as warmth and protection, the Backpack Bed provides the homeless with dignity,” said Mr Clark. A staggering 16,375 men, women and children will be sleeping on streets across Australia tonight (ABS figures 2006) with approx 315 new homeless being turned away from shelter every day (AIHW 2011).

From April 2012, the Backpack Bed will be available to buy from 90 retail stores with all proceeds going to support the continued work of Swags for Homeless.

Mr Clark says $2.1 million in funding would cover the costs to produce enough Backpack Beds to assist the street sleeping homeless across Australia.

Swags for Homeless - 2012 Australia Day Heroes List

Advocate of the Year Award, Simon Mitchel
Melbourne, ex-homeless man who slept under a bridge for almost a year in a Backpack Bed ... then next night in public housing - advocates the homeless crisis and success of Backpack Bed program.

Advocate Award, David Wright
Melbourne, ex-homeless man speaks about desperation crime of homeless - advocating the Backpack Bed program can reduce desperation among homeless.

Young Hero of the Year, John Dunn
Sydney, 12 year old boy - for this birthday wanted to help street sleeping homeless so asked for donations to buy Backpack Beds instead of presents from family and friends.

Young Hero Award, Sarah English
Perth, Uni student inspired young adults to fundraise for an entire city of street sleeping homeless.

Volunteer of the Year, Kenny Qu
China, a man who went above and beyond to help Swags for Homeless through the experiences of manufacturing the Backpack Bed. A man who wanted nothing in return.

Volunteer Award, Barry Gobbe
Sydney, ex-paramedic working with homeless for 20 years - who in 2011 helped several Sydney homeless people get back on their feet. Also a Granville disaster hero; first paramedic on site.

School of the Year, Christ the Priest Catholic Primary School
Melbourne, Year 5 students experienced homelessness for a night.

School Award, Cornish College
Melbourne, students from multiple year levels experienced homelessness for a night.

Hero, Shannon Norton
Perth, ex-homeless man / slept in a Backpack Bed advocates homeless rights extensively including during CHOGM, organiser of free homeless street tours of squats and streets to show the reality.

Hero, Anthony Byrne MP
Melbourne, Federal Member for Holt. Along with others across political parties, pushing Federal Parliament to listen to the national success of the Swags for Homeless Backpack Bed program.

Corporate Heroes
From financial to in-kind and pro-bono assistance - these corporate partners have provided valuable assistance to help meet the visions of Swags for Homeless

  •     Vodafone Foundation
  •     Network Ten
  •     Forty Winks
  •     Toll IPEC
  •     Middletons Melbourne
  •     Toll in2store Knoxfield
  •     Griffith Hack Melbourne
  •     Synchromesh
  •     Lachlan Hunter
  •     Storage King Scoresby


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Contact Profile

Swags for Homeless

Swags for Homeless is a national charity with tax deductible status based in Knoxfield, Melbourne.

Swags for Homeless was founded by Tony Clark when he questioned what was given to street sleeping homeless turned away from shelters. Husband and wife team Tony and Lisa Clark designed the emergency relief Backpack Bed.

Swags for Homeless was awarded Australia’s most prestigious charity award in December 2011 - the Australian Human Rights Award by the Australian Human Rights Commission - for the dignity the Backpack Beds provides.

In 2011 the Backpack Bed won 3 international product design awards:

  • Red Dot ‘Best of the Best’, Germany - the worlds largest and most prestigious product design award
  • Australian International Design Award
  • Sydney Powerhouse Museum Design Award for Innovation and Benefits to its users.

The Backpack Bed is study proven as highly effective for homeless turned away from shelters - improving health, self esteem and most importantly dignity.

The success of the Backpack Bed program now has charities around the world requesting Backpack Beds - including, Germany, Poland, USA and the UK.

Testament to quality, the Backpack Bed™ resides in 2 international museums - including the worlds largest contemporary design museum in Essen, Germany and the PowerHouse Museum in Sydney, Australia.
Tony Clark
P: 0397649422
M: 0411455779


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