Rosies volunteers

Jon Martlew (second from left) and his team of Rosies volunteers with Kathryn Gorton (far right) of Guides Queensland

World Chief Guide and founder of the guiding movement, Lady Olave Baden-Powell once said, ‘It is not what you have but what you give that brings happiness.’

On Saturday evening May 17 Toowoomba Branch Coordinator Jon Martlew took a team of Rosies volunteers and a fully stocked van to the Yellaloo Guide Hut.

The team were there to provide a barbecue dinner and some hot Milo to Girl Guides from the Guides Queensland Darling Downs region who slept outside in the cold as part of their ‘Chain of Cardboard Cities’ fundraising event.

22 Guides aged from 8 to 14 participated in the event to raise funds to assist homeless people in the Toowoomba area.

The girls slept outdoors in cardboard boxes to get a feel for what it’s like for a person sleeping rough – and the weather pitched in to help with a little rain overnight, leading to some soggy shelters!

One lucky girl had the opportunity to sleep in a Backpack Bed overnight to see the difference a warm dry shelter can make to a person without a roof over their head.

‘We drew a lucky number to select the Guide who would have the chance to sleep in the Backpack Bed for the night,’ said Jon.

‘The girl who won the draw had brought her own sleeping bag for the night – so she gave the opportunity to another girl she felt needed it more.’

‘We thought her generosity was just so special – if these girls are our future leaders, I think the place is in good hands.’

Guides set up their boxes

Guides setting up their cardboard boxes, with Rosies volunteer Margaret Battle heading over to help.

Rosies Training and Development Manager Cat Milton also attended to talk with the girls about homelessness and how people can help.

‘Young people can sometimes grasp abstract concepts so much more quickly than adults,’ said Cat.

‘The girls understood intuitively the value of friendship to a person’s self esteem and resilience, and were able to suggest ways they could assist people who are homeless in ways which are both practically and emotionally supportive.’

Funds raised from the event will be donated to Rosies to support operations in Toowoomba.


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Rosies, like many other charities across Australia, will need to expand its services to meet the needs of vulnerable families and others who live on tight budgets may find themselves homeless or houseless.

The Federal Budget has raised concerns for many local charities as disadvantaged and vulnerable groups are at higher risk than ever due to funding cuts.

The axing of government jobs and amalgamation of many State based services will stress families reliant on support services, tightening their already precarious budgets and making homelessness a very real possibility. Cuts to Family Tax Benefit will be the breaking point for many vulnerable families.

Rosies has been seeing families living in their cars in our regional outreaches across Queensland over the past year, and numbers are rising.

Currently 27% of homeless in Queensland are children, and we expect this figure to rise as more families are pushed out on to the street.

Our Ipswich outreach reported 90 people in the park recently and 30 of them were children.

With such alarming numbers of families reaching out to Rosies for help, we can expect the demand on our outreaches to increase.

In fact, Rosies is receiving calls to expand with requests from the Wynnum community to establish an outreach locally.

Local emergency relief providers have reported a significant increase in requests for help from people at risk of homelessness – families and individuals reliant on Centrelink payments who do not have enough money for food after rent is paid, and some who do not receive income support at all.

So far this year, just one emergency relief provider has had requests for assistance from 160 individuals and families. Their clients are households at significant risk of homelessness, and budget cuts increase this risk significantly.

As some of these budget cuts don’t take effect until 2015-2017, Rosies needs to plan and prepare for an increasing number of marginalised people who will need our support.

It is crucial that Rosies further engage in local community partnerships in order to resource and provide support to the growing need that
lies ahead. We would like to secure some corporate partnerships, so we can engage skilled volunteers to assist us with providing services
and bridging the gaps for the marginalised and disadvantaged in our community.

With such alarming numbers of families reaching out to Rosies for help, we can expect the demand on our outreaches to increase.

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The nights are already cold in Ipswich, but Rosies is partnering with Street Doctors and Kotahi Aroha to provide warm hospitality to patrons.

Ipswich Branch Coordinator Michael Byrnes says that Thursday nights in Ipswich are like a big family get together – though the irony is that many of our patrons are families who are doing it tough.

‘We’re seeing lots of kids,’ said Michael.

‘Last night we saw about 90 people in the park, and about 30 of them were children.’

‘I was shocked.’

There are so many children coming to visit the Rosies van that a volunteer on each team spends their shift making hot Milo for them and ensuring they’re comfortable and warm while they’re there.

‘I’ve got a fair idea that a few of them are sleeping in cars, but some of them have homes – they just have no money. They’re coming out to get something to eat.’

Kotahi Aroha are a charity group based in Logan who make the trip to Ipswich every Thursday to provide hot meals to Rosies patrons.

They also bring canned food for patrons to take home with them.

Michael says that sharing park space with Rosies actually changes the way that groups like Kotahi Aroha engage with patrons.

Once the group serves patrons with a meal, their volunteers enjoy a cuppa from the Rosies van and spend time chatting with patrons.

‘It makes for a very harmonious night,’ said Michael.

‘We all eat together like a family.’

The Street Doctors also visit on Thursday night with their mobile GP surgery to provide medical services to patrons in need.

Demand for the Street Doctors services are increasing as patrons become more familiar with the service.

The doctors also share a cuppa and chat with patrons in between consultations which helps to build trust.

‘The doctors used to see about 6 patrons each night, but in the last couple of weeks that’s doubled to around a dozen.’

‘The fact that the doctors can be social with a cuppa – it does make a difference.’

Michael said that as the weather gets colder, patrons are seeking shelter for the night earlier.

‘We’ve changed our outreach times on Friday nights to start at 7pm rather than 8pm.’

‘We found that our patrons were arriving as early as 5 or 6pm and waiting for us to come and give them a hot drink or some noodles to fight off the cold.’

The Ipswich branch is facing an increase in demand for warm blankets and Backpack Beds.

During winter, temperatures overnight can drop to below zero, making a warm place to sleep a matter of survival rather than comfort.


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The latest edition of the Rosies newsletter is out and available for download.

Click here to read it – and while you’re at it, why not print out a copy to leave in the office lunch room?