Please note that the Sleepbus is no longer parked at Tuggeranong Uniting Church. After several months it was evident that the demand for the service in this part of Canberra was low, and the bus has relocated first to Gungahlin and subsequently to the Inner North of Canberra. We are proud that we were able to assist in enabling the service to start up in Canberra and will look for further opportunities to work with people suffering homelessness in our community. Below is a summary of how the service developed in our region.
Tuggeranong Uniting Church, The National Council of Women ACT and Sleepbus Australia partnered to provide a safe place for homeless women and children to sleep and receive a meal and support.
With a dramatic increase in women (and their children) sleeping rough in our community due to financial strife, family breakdowns, domestice violence and other factors. In response to this our church provided a secure accomodation option just for women and children (and their pets), where women can rest while they figure out their next steps. The sleepbus service assists women to trasition into long term accommodation, as well as providing links to local support services, financial assistance, employment, education, health care and legal advice.
More than half the homeless in Canberra are currently women, with older single women the largest growing cohort. In the southside of Canberra about 40 people are sleeping rough every night.
The Sleepbus can sleep up to 22 women each night—each in their own separate pod. Each pod is air-conditioned and comes with a mattress, pillows, sheets, blankets (washed daily), USB charging, lockable door and a television with a special channel showing services in the area for pathways out of homelessness.
The bus also has a special purpose-built larger pod that can cater for women with children, with two double bunks in its own area.
The women are met each night by volunteers from local service groups and workers from employers who have a community service scheme. The pods are cleaned thoroughly each morning by a new set of volunteers, and fresh linen is provided for each night’s stay.
Given a leading cause of homelessness for women is escaping violence, the Sleepbus has a number of safety features. The bus is surrounded by CCTV. At night, the pods are completely blacked out, so you can’t see into them—nobody could know who is in a particular pod. All the CCTV cameras are connected to the caretaker’s cabin, and there is also security on call. The police have taken a great interest in the Sleepbus, having visited it and our church. They will do drive bys and respond immediately to any calls from it.
We want people to know that if you’re sleeping rough and you’re not getting a good night sleep, you don’t need to keep doing that. You can sleep on the Sleepbus, and be pointed to some of the local services that can assist you longer-term.
For information on Sleepbus, see:
More information about the sleepbus service is available at www.sleepbus.org