Tuggeranong Uniting Church, The National Council of Women ACT and Sleepbus Australia are partnering to provide a safe place for homeless women and children in our community to sleep and receive a meal and support.
There has been 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 is providing 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.
So we’re hoping that those women who are housed in very vulnerable circumstances can find a place on the Pink Sleepbus to at least get a good night’s sleep, clear their heads, think properly, and hopefully access services that will give them a more permanent solution to their situation. That’s the least we can do for them.
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.
The Pink Sleepbus will be stationed at Tuggeranong Uniting Church’s car park for three nights a week —Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights.
Tuggeranong Uniting Church Council offer a service of hospitality to the volunteers and any women who access the service by providing tea and coffee, biscuits and cup of soup, as well as a warm and safe place to sit and be social.
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:
The sleepbus service is available at the church every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night.
More information about the sleepbus service is available at www.sleepbus.org