Thursday, November 25th, 2010
Many people will not vote at the 2010 Victorian State election this weekend. For some, this is a deliberate decision, a form of protest if you like because for whatever reason they simply do not care to exercise their democratic rights as a citizen to vote.

But a growing number of Victorians will not vote, not because they otherwise would not be interested to do so, not because they have never done so before, but rather because right now every waking moment is spent wondering just how they, and in many cases their families, are going to survive.

They are the homeless and are operating at the very bottom of Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs – basic survival.

Despite the efforts of the Victorian Election Commission (VEC) many homeless people will not be voting because in their circumstances, getting access to information, updating the electoral roll, becoming informed of current affairs, and getting out to vote are very low priorities.

In 2010 there is a growing number of newly homeless who don't fit old stereotypes. Many of them work regular jobs, or did until recently, nursing the sick, caring for other people's children, cleaning offices, stacking shelves, driving cabs.

They lived in apartments or houses, surviving paycheck to paycheck. One thing went wrong in their personal and economic circumstances, and they didn't have far to fall before they ended up out of home, landing with relatives or friends, caravan parks or shelters, or in the worst situations, on the street.

The Council to Homeless Persons has reported that on any given night in Victoria there are more than 23,000 homeless people, including more than 2,200 people “sleeping rough” (without any shelter or accommodation at all).

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found in a 2010 study that 80% of families and 60% of individuals will be turned away from shelters tonight

These people are among the most marginalised and disadvantaged in the Victorian community. They should not be disenfranchised too.

To provide dignity to those people who are sleeping rough, the Salvation Army plus 40 other homeless charities in Melbourne distribute the life saving Backpack Bed from national charity, Swags for Homeless

Swags for Homeless provide Backpack Beds as emergency relief bedding - free for people sleeping on the streets.

Chairman and Founder of Swags for Homeless, Tony Clark said:

“Politicians from both sides speak about the need for affordable housing and we agree. BUT what is being done for street sleeping homeless tonight? You can’t have a homeless policy without a policy to deal with the crisis of homeless turned away from shelters tonight. Backpack Beds do something very powerful - provide dignity and act as a proven practical crisis measure for tonight - Something that politicians have failed to do.”

“As an interim support measure the provision of warm, waterproof bedding becomes important and we appreciate being able to provide people with the Backpack Bed.”
- Major David Eldridge, Salvation Army

Another ship container of Backpack Beds will arrive early December for free distribution to homeless across Australia.

Tony and Lisa Clark are the Melbourne couple behind this crisis relief strategy. They have put their IT careers aside and have joined forces with major charities to help those without a home.

Specifically designed for the homeless, these 2.5kg Backpack Beds are waterproof, fire retardant and cost $68 each. With a built in mattress - they fold out to a bed which not only offers mosquito protected windows but secret lockable pockets with storage space for 20kg of belongings.

This Christmas Swags for Homeless has launched the Victorian Emergency Relief Homeless Program (VERHP).

The VERHP requires $283,000 to provide a free lightweight portable bed for every homeless person in Victoria.

In the last 12 months 1,000 Backpack Beds have been distributed in Melbourne and 3,000 produced. Australia has a homeless crisis and dignity tonight is needed.

All funding comes from donations.

They will be distributed by local charities and be given out to people who are genuinely homeless.



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Swags for Homeless

Tonight 16,375 Australians will sleep on our streets.

Swags for Homeless provides free Backpack Beds as emergency relief bedding to street sleeping homeless.

Distributed via partnering with homeless charities Australia wide. Backpack Beds are proven by charities to improve homeless health, sleep, dignity, comfort and safety.

• National not for profit charity - donations over $2 are tax deductible
• To purchase the famous Backpack Bed for yourself go to

For further information:
Media Liason Jeff Gilling M. 041 22 66 530
Tony Clark, Founder & Chairman, Swags for Homeless
Ph: 03 9764 9422
Mob: 0411 455 779
Email: [email protected]

Jeff Gilling
P: 03 9764 9422
M: 041 22 66 530


homeless, swags for homeless, street sleepinhg homeless, Victoriam election



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