Stars of the stage and long-time friends Mahalia Barnes and Prinnie Stevens have paired up as ambassadors for the 30th anniversary of Mission Australia’s Sleepout to raise awareness and funds to help end homelessness.

Known for battling it out on The Voice in 2012 and their skyrocketing musical careers, the pair have come together with Mission Australia to help the charity to mark 30 years since its first ever Sleepout in 1988. Over three decades, the initiative, which invites individuals to spend a night sleeping away from the comfort of their bed, has seen more than 50,000 people take part and raise over $3 million for vital homelessness services.

In asking people to rough it for a night, the duo says the charity seeks to give individuals a brief glimpse into the reality of the lives of 116,000 people in Australia who are homeless on any given night. Mahalia said: “Too many people are being pushed into homelessness in Australia. Mission Australia is working tirelessly to provide support to people when they are at their most vulnerable.

“We’ve all seen people sleeping on the streets and perhaps felt a sense of helplessness, so here is an active way that we can all help those who are experiencing homelessness. The people we see sleeping rough are just the tip of the iceberg. Thousands of Australians are sleeping in unsafe environments, in cars, on couches and even in tents. We all have a responsibility to do what we can to help those who don’t have a safe place to call home.”

Prinnie said: “We would love to see more Australians host their own Sleepout events this year. We know that so many won’t have a true idea of what it feels like to be homeless, but we hope that by hosting their own Sleepout with friends, family or communities that this will give people some insight on what it feels like to not have the simple things in life that so many of us take for granted.”

Mission Australia CEO James Toomey said: “We are so pleased to have Prinnie and Mahalia on board as Sleepout Ambassadors to help raise awareness of issues surrounding homelessness and encourage our community to take action, host their own Sleepout and help fundraise much needed funds.”

While it’s a significant milestone, unfortunately there aren’t many reasons to celebrate on the Sleepout’s 30th birthday. Homelessness rates in Australia are rising, which is largely due to the escalating costs of rental properties and a lack of social and affordable housing. There’s never been a more critical time to shed light on the effects of the housing affordability crisis.

Mr Toomey said, “Together we can end homelessness. We need a national plan that commits to ending homelessness by 2030 and addresses the main drivers such as family violence, poverty and the lack of affordable housing. As part of this plan, we need clear targets at a national and local level to boost the supply of homes that are genuinely affordable and appropriate.”

For more information and to register for Mission Australia’s 30 Years of Sleepout visit https://act.missionaustralia.com.au/event/sleepout2018

Source: Mission Australia