Home' The Canberra Times : CHRONICLE 19.2.13 Contents DELIVERING COMMUNITY NEWS ACROSS CANBERRA AND QUEANBEYAN
Volume 18 No. 7
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 19, 2013
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BROUGHT INTO THE
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BIN TRIAL RESULTS IN
Sleeping rough for a reason
Recipient of the Volunteer of the Year Award for Swags for Homeless, James Elliot.
Picture: Elesa Lee
Local helps ACT's homeless
TO HELP Canberra's street sleeping
homeless James Elliot hit the street.
He organised a 300-kilometre walk
from Canberra to Sydney along the
Hume Highway, sleeping rough along
the way, to raise money and awareness
for people without shelter.
The journey for Mr Elliot began
after reading about a plan to give
homeless people wheelie bins to store
"No beds or anything, just a wheelie
bin to put their stuff in,'' Mr Elliot
said. "I just thought it was a ridiculous
waste of money. I got a little bit irate
He took to the internet and found
that backpack beds could be provided
for half the price of the wheelie bin
plan. He got in contact with Swags for
Homeless, which supply the back-
packs, and told them he wanted to
organise a fundraiser.
After a few drinks the idea to do an
epic walk was floated.
In November they set off. But not
without overcoming a few hurdles.
"Taking a group of people and walking
them down a highway can be frowned
upon by the RTA,'' Mr Elliot said.
Six of them completed the full nine
day walk while a couple of girls in
wheel chairs joined them for the
Sydney section. The group slept at the
side of the road or was lucky enough
to have locals provide a bed for the
He said the generosity from people
they met on the way to Sydney and
from those in Canberra who have
found out about the fundraiser has
restored his faith in human nature.
"I think I did bite off more than I
could chew originally but I'm incred-
ibly grateful that we've done it,'' Mr
Elliot said. "Just so we know that it's
going to make a difference, particu-
larly in our local area.
"The homeless people that I've
spoken to here say the Canberra
winters and summers are so incredibly
harsh that it's nearly impossible to find
somewhere safe and secure where you
"They're not protected from the
elements and they're not protected
from abuse either, which unfortunately
does happen. You get homeless people
that are set alight while they're
sleeping in boxes.''
The fundraising effort will see 80
new backpack beds distributed to
homeless people across Canberra by
local charities. The backpacks have a
built-in mattress and rolls up to be
worn as an ergonomic backpack. It is
also waterproof, windproof and has
Swags for Homeless founder and
chief executive Tony Clark said the
organisation was fortunate to receive
Mr Elliot's help.
"Without government funding we
rely on people doing amazing things to
help the homeless,'' Mr Clark said.
For Mr Elliot's November walk to
Sydney, which he still has blisters
from, Swags for Homeless presented
him with the Volunteer of the Year
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