Swags for Home­less Wins Human Rights Award

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As long-term read­ers of this blog will remem­ber, I chose Swags for Home­less as the char­ity to sup­port in my Walk to Kosciuszko in 2010. I was struck by the sheer prac­ti­cal­ity and inge­nu­ity of this char­ity. There are many groups try­ing to do some­thing for home­less peo­ple, but some initiatives–like home­less shel­ters, or pro­mot­ing social housing–take a long time to imple­ment and sim­ply can’t cater for the inflow of new home­less.

Swags got there in one step, with an inex­pen­sive, well-designed portable bed that gives a home­less per­son a good sleep, today, even though they are sleep­ing rough.

If you’re think­ing of help­ing out a char­ity as part of your Xmas/New Year activ­i­ties this year, then please con­sider help­ing the very prac­ti­cal and entre­pre­neur­ial work of Swags for Home­less.

I was delighted to hear last week that the founders of Swags for Home­less, Tony and Lisa Clark, were selected as the win­ners of the Aus­tralian Human Rights Com­mis­sionCom­mu­nity Organ­i­sa­tion award. Below is the press release from Swags about the award.

Mr Clark, who founded Swags for Home­less in 2007, started the non-profit home­less char­ity in Mel­bourne when he ques­tioned what was given to street sleep­ing home­less turned away from shel­ters. Tony and Lisa Clark designed the emer­gency relief Back­pack Bed, which also received the worlds largest and most pres­ti­gious prod­uct design award the Red Dot ‘Best of the Best’ in Ger­many this year.

Back­pack Beds are pro­vided to street sleep­ing home­less turned away from shel­ters — and are dis­trib­uted through 139 char­i­ties around Aus­tralia.

It’s extremely grat­i­fy­ing to receive this pres­ti­gious Human Rights award, how­ever the real acknowl­edg­ment we need is from the gov­ern­ment in terms of fund­ing. It is against the Uni­ver­sal Dec­la­ra­tion of Human Rights Char­ter for the Aus­tralian Gov­ern­ment to ignore home­less turned away from shel­ters empty handed. They need to lis­ten to the almost 200 char­i­ties scream­ing about the suc­cess of the Back­pack Bed pro­gram.” said Mr Clark.

Paul Moulds AM (Major) from The Sal­va­tion Army says the Back­pack Bed has been invalu­able to their organ­i­sa­tion and used in many of their out­reach pro­grams for the home­less.

It’s a grim real­ity that many peo­ple cur­rently do not have access to safe or afford­able hous­ing and are liv­ing on the streets,” said Major Moulds.

Across 139 char­i­ties approx. 3000 Back­pack Beds were dis­trib­uted in 2011 which Mr Clark says falls well short of the required 21,000 yearly needed to assist home­less across Aus­tralia.

As well as warmth and pro­tec­tion, the Back­pack Bed pro­vides the home­less with dig­nity,” added Mr Clark.

A stag­ger­ing 16,375 men, women and chil­dren will be sleep­ing on streets across Aus­tralia with 2,204 of those in Vic­to­ria alone (ABS fig­ures 2006).

We had to turn away 39 organ­i­sa­tions this year plead­ing for our study proven Back­pack Beds due to the lack of fund­ing, it’s heart­break­ing.”

Mr Clark says $2.1 mil­lion in fund­ing would cover the costs to pro­duce enough Back­pack Beds to assist the street sleep­ing home­less across Aus­tralia, which includes $284,000 to cover Vic­to­ria.

This year the Back­pack Bed also received an Aus­tralian Inter­na­tional Design Award and the Syd­ney Pow­er­house Museum Design Award for inno­va­tion and ben­e­fits to its users.

From April 2012, the Clark’s Back­pack Bed will be avail­able from 90 retail stores with all pro­ceeds going to sup­port the con­tin­ued work of Swags for Home­less.

About Swags for Homeless

Swags for Home­less is a national char­ity with tax deductible sta­tus based in Knox­field, Mel­bourne.

Swags for Home­less pro­vides free Back­pack Beds™ (swags) as an interim cri­sis mea­sure to street sleep­ing home­less around Aus­tralia. The Back­pack Bed is study proven as highly effec­tive for home­less turned away from shel­ters — improv­ing health, self esteem and most impor­tantly dig­nity.

Tony Clark (founder of Swags for Home­less) and his wife Lisa invented the world first Back­pack Bed™ to save the lives of home­less. The Back­pack Bed is a Back­pack and Bed in one — an out­door all weather pro­tec­tion sleep­ing unit.

The suc­cess of the Back­pack Bed pro­gram now has char­i­ties around the world request­ing Back­pack Beds — includ­ing, Ger­many, Poland, USA and the UK.
Tes­ta­ment to qual­ity, the Back­pack Bed™ resides in 2 inter­na­tional muse­ums — includ­ing the worlds largest con­tem­po­rary design museum in Essen, Ger­many and the Pow­er­House Museum in Syd­ney, Aus­tralia.

About Steve Keen

I am Professor of Economics and Head of Economics, History and Politics at Kingston University London, and a long time critic of conventional economic thought. As well as attacking mainstream thought in Debunking Economics, I am also developing an alternative dynamic approach to economic modelling. The key issue I am tackling here is the prospect for a debt-deflation on the back of the enormous private debts accumulated globally, and our very low rate of inflation.
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  • dearpru­dence

    Thanks for giv­ing “Swags for Home­less” a men­tion. I had not heard of them until now, but check­ing their web­site, good­ness me, what an incred­i­bly effec­tive and prac­ti­cal way to help those with­out a roof over their heads. I’ve made a dona­tion and have emailed the PM. It is incom­pre­hen­si­ble that our Fed Govt can­not find a few lousy mil­lion needed to ensure the demand for these beds can be sup­plied.

  • Indeed Pru­dence! Here’s a case where an inex­pen­sive ele­gant par­tial solu­tion to a prob­lem is ignored byb politi­cians because they … Gawd knows, but they prob­a­bly pre­fer the grand ges­tures like “A Pol­icy For Home­less­ness” to a prac­ti­cal solu­tion that admits home­less­ness will always be with us. Many thanks for the email to the PM.

  • sj

    Well Mr keen this be your great­est achieve­ment walk­ing to the high­est moun­tain in Aus­tralian and help­ing home­less peo­ple.

    At the time you had your per­ni­cious intel­lec­tu­als scream­ing for you to make the los­ing let­ters big­ger on your T shirts.

    I said just get on with it and do the T shirts as a fac­tual design.

    Are you loser for walk­ing Mr Keen NO!

    Debt jubilee will not help major­ity of home­less peo­ple they already have no job or income, so no finan­cial house will give them a loan any­way.

    It’s shame that your debt jubilee will be even­tu­ally seen as per­ni­cious intel­lec­tual stuff with a free pass for moral haz­ard and cor­rupt high debt indi­vid­u­als.

  • RickW

    This story is about house prices rather than swags:

    I checked how the other four “fore­cast­ers” men­tioned faired in 2011. All pre­dicted good hous­ing price growth for 2011 — in con­trast to Steve. So who would you back to be right in 2012. The 4 who got 2011 wrong or the 1 who got 2011 right.

    Peo­ple fol­low­ing the advice of Shane Oliver and oth­ers of that ilk will even­tu­ally need a swag. As long as they get their com­mis­sion they will ensure your path to finan­cial ruin. 

    In Dec 2007 Shane Oliver fore­cast ASX All Ords to be 7300 at end of 2008. It ended at 3500. Last year he fore­cast All Ords to end 2011 at 5500:
    It will need to gain 30% from cur­rent 4218 to make his fore­cast over the next week — unlikely. 

    I can­not under­stand why such dills are given print space. The sad part about it is that people’s sav­ings are being eroded by these corrupt/incompetent sales­men while they pocket a steady stream of fees. The super­an­nu­a­tion indus­try in Aus­tralia is a par­adise for par­a­sites.

    My best invest­ment in the last 2 years has been to install solar pan­els. My invest­ment return is around 15% this year on that small invest­ment and it is likely to improve as power costs are bound to go up. How many finan­cial advi­sors have told you to install solar pan­els — mine cer­tainly didn’t. Mine sug­gested I take heed of Shane Oliver and stay in the share mar­ket rather than con­vert to term deposits, which I con­sid­ered a pru­dent move after read­ing this blog. 

    Hav­ing Steve’s insight I went for the deposits and am up 6%. Those fol­low­ing Shane Oliver and other dills are con­tin­u­ing to go behind.

  • Nice one Rick. Can you send the links for those other pre­dic­tions? I enjoy the odd touch of shaden­freude.

  • koonyeow

    Title: My Naive Ques­tion

    Shouldn’t we short what­ever Shane rec­om­mended then? How many con­tin­u­ous sig­mas will it take for All Ords to hit 5500, con­sid­er­ing only 9 trad­ing days are left?

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