POLICE and City of Melbourne staff removed homeless people camped at Flinders St Station yesterday before renovations* on the historic station were due to begin.
Builders were due to put up scaffolding* for the renovations and people were camped in the way.
The large number of homeless people and the size of their camps was in the news in recent weeks. There was much debate about whether it was appropriate* for these people to camp there and, if not, how they could be asked or forced to move elsewhere. It’s not against the law to sit or sleep in a public space unless, in doing so, you are stopping other people from getting past. Before the renovations began and required the people to move, police and council staff could also only force people to move if they were breaking a law.
Melbourne has many homeless people. Social service groups that help homeless people, such as the Salvation Army, believe that there are more homeless people in the city than ever before.
People are homeless for many reasons. Some people are homeless simply because it is expensive to buy or rent a house or flat. If you can’t find a job or your job doesn’t pay much, it’s very difficult to afford a place to live. Many people, however, sleep on the streets because they have a mental illness that they’re not able to manage, or drug problems or have had to leave their homes because they don’t feel safe there.
The government provides housing for some people but there are long waiting lists for these places. Social service groups have places homeless people can go to sleep but these organisations have difficulty raising enough money to provide housing or short-term accommodation* for everyone who needs it.
When the issue was in the news a lot a couple of weeks ago, the Victorian state government announced it would spend an extra $10 million to help deal with Melbourne’s homelessness problem.
renovation: to restore something to good condition
scaffolding: framework builders use to reach high parts of buildings
appropriate: the right thing to do
accommodation: a room, a group of rooms or a building where someone can live
LISTEN TO TODAY’S STORY
ACTIVITY 1: Draw your thoughts
Before you start draw a picture that comes to mind, or write words or sentences when you think about the word homeless.
Share your pictures or words with your class.
Curriculum links: Critical and Creative Thinking
ACTIVITY 2: Understanding the Story
Read the story carefully and answer these questions:
i. Why did police move the homeless people camped at Flinders Street Station?
ii. Is it against the law to sit or sleep in a public space?
iii. When is it against the law to sit or sleep in a public space?
iv. What are some of the reasons why people are homeless?
v. What do the government and social service groups do to help homeless people?
vi. What are some problems that stop everyone getting this help?
Time: allow about 20 minutes to complete this task
Curriculum links: English, Ethical Learning, The Humanities/Civics and Citizenship
2. What Do You Think?
What are the arguments FOR and AGAINST moving the homeless people from Flinders St?
Write down arguments for and against this. Work with a partner.
What do you think? Write down as many arguments as you can think of that would help others agree with you.
Use your arguments to write a Letter to the Editor of Kid’s News about this.
Time: allow about 40 minutes to complete this task
Curriculum links: English, Ethical Learning, Critical and Creative Thinking
What Can We Do?
Find out more about homelessness. Some of these websites can help you:
www.salvationarmy.org.au (search for Why are people homeless?)
www.homelessnessaustralia.org.au (navigate to the About homelessness tab)
What do you think can be done to help homeless people?
Create a poster, write a speech or create a storyboard for an advertisement that will help other young people learn what can be done to help to solve this problem.
Time: allow at leat 1 hour to complete this task
Curriculum links: The Asrts/Visual Communication and Design, The Humanities/Civics and, Citizenship, Technologies/Digital Technologies, Critical and Creative Thinking, Ethical Learning
(Vocabulary, Connectives, Openers and Punctuation)
Homelessness is a massive issue in Australia. The age group experiencing the largest increase in homelessness is children. The number of homeless Victorian children under the age of nine increased from 9027 to 13,019 kids between the 2013 and 2015 financial years, according to Australian Institute of Health and Welfare figures.
Why is it important for children to have a safe and warm house to live in?
Write to the Australian government explaining the importance of safe, secure and stable housing for children. You may wish to write it as an exposition.
Extension: Consider how homelessness might affect children’s education and/or health and well-being. Include this in your writing piece or discussion.
Time: allow at least 60 minutes to complete the task
Curriculum Links: English, Big Write, VCOP
Activity provided by Andrell Education www.andrelleducation.com.au
IN A SENTENCE USING YOUR BEST GRAMMAR, PUNCTUATION AND VOCABULARY, SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT TODAY’S STORY