A simple acknowledgment can have a big impact on people experiencing homelessness.
On Friday 6 October 2023, St Bart’s hosted its Say G’day initiative in a bid to highlight the positive impact a simple acknowledgment can have on the people doing it tough on our streets.
It is the third annual Say G’day Day, an initiative from homelessness and mental health service provider, St Bart’s.
The initiative encourages the Perth community not to turn away when they see someone doing it tough on the streets, but instead to show some kindness and offer a word of acknowledgement.
St Bart’s CEO, Sam Drury, said that a kind word can boost the mental health for people living on the streets.
“Just say G’day," she said. "It’s incredible what a big impact a single word can have on someone’s self-esteem and feeling of worth when they are at their most vulnerable.”
The latest census data doem the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS, 2021) has revealed that, of the 9,700 people experiencing homelessness in WA every night, more than 2,300 people have no other option than to sleep rough on WA’s streets.
That’s an increase of 114 per cent of rough sleepers from the previous census.
ABS statistics show that people experiencing homelessness are more than three times more likely to also experience mental health challenges than those who have never been homeless.
“There is a two-way cause and effect relationship between homelessness and mental illness,” Ms Drury explained. “Poor mental health can make it harder to cope with housing problems, and the harsh reality of homelessness can make mental health much worse.”
Ms Drury said the Say G’day campaign from St Bart’s was an idea to shine the spotlight on how each and every member of the community can make a difference to someone experiencing homelessness, with just a simple act of kindness.
“We’ve been supporting people experiencing homelessness and mental health challenges for 60 years. And right now, with the critical shortage of rental properties in the state, and the skyrocketing cost of living, we’re unfortunately seeing a new wave of people seeking help,” Ms Drury said.
“Homelessness can happen to anyone. It can take just one job loss, one rental hike, or catastrophic life moment to find yourself without a home.
"No one can possibly be prepared for the dehumanising effect of life on the streets. Imagine how much worse it is when the community pretends not to see you, or actively turns away,” she said.
"With Say G’day Day, we’re showing the community that a simple greeting, just one word, could be enough to show that person that they are worthy. It could be the catalyst for change.
This year’s Say G’day Day is supported by the Big Issue whose sellers help to share the message backed by their own lived experience of homelessness, marginalisation and disadvantage.
Say G’day Day began in 2021, an initiative from St Bart’s to highlight the reality of homelessness and the positive impact a simple acknowledgement can have on those doing it tough.
The awareness day is marked annually on the first Friday in October, deliberately placed in the lead up to Mental Health Week (7-15 October) and World Mental Health Day and World Homeless Day which are on 10 October.
Since 1963, St Bart’s has been standing by the side of Western Australians at risk of or experiencing homelessness, mental health challenges, trauma and hardship.
They provide support to more than 560 consumers through a range of services that are based on trauma informed recovery. This means that they recognise and respond to the effects of all types of trauma and the person drives the type of support they receive.
St Bart’s mission is to provide opportunities, pathways and care to vulnerable people who find themselves without a home, and is currently celebrating 60 years of support to vulnerable people in Western Australia.