Donated caravans filling the gap in regional homelessness

Ian Campbell 7 September 2019
Mick Brosnan, Social Justice Advocates of the Saphire Coast, and Kylie Furnell, SEWACS Youth Accommodation Program. Photo: Ian Campbell.

Mick Brosnan, Social Justice Advocates of the Sapphire Coast, and Kylie Furnell, SEWACS Youth Accommodation Program. Photo: Ian Campbell.

Bega Valley social services are working together on a creative solution to homelessness in regional areas.

The Social Justice Advocates of the Sapphire Coast are wanting to add to their bank of caravans which are used for short term crisis accommodation.

“What we do is provide caravans and a unit and a crisis accommodation centre to Mission Australia and SEWACS (South East Women’s and Children’s Services), we are directed by them,” explains Mick Brosnan of the Social Justice Advocates of the Sapphire Coast (SJA).

“And we are in the process of buying two more caravans, another unit was too expensive. That will take us to nine caravans.

“Sadly our current seven are being used tonight, which is the case most nights.”

The SJA caravans provide short term dignity and security to people and families in need, “whilst the service providers try and find real accommodation, but that is as scarce as hen’s teeth,” Mick says.

“The caravans are at Kalaru and Millangandi and we are very thankful to the owners of both those caravan parks.

“But it’s Mission Australia and SEWACS Youth who look after the people, the idea is to not to just put people in the vans but to try and make them stronger and more empowered for when they leave.”

Six of the seven existing caravans have been donated by the community, “and there is a friend of the Social Justice Advocates who refurbishes them for us at no cost – just the cost of materials.”

When it comes to supporting this work, Mick says donations of money and caravans are important but he adds, “the community can do more than that.”

“It’s being aware of people who are homeless, talk to people who are homeless – it’s not just being homeless that impacts people, it’s the syndrome that surrounds that and a feeling of loneliness.

“We have got to concentrate on that – empathise with people, talk with them, say hello, buy them a coffee. So yes please donate but be a part of the community and talk with people – smile.”

Kylie Furnell, coordinator of the SEWACS Youth Accommodation Program echoes Mick’s words.

“The Social Justice Advocates are our saviour because we have no youth refuge here, they help us out with the caravans,” Kylie says.

“That gives us up to a week of breathing space for us to do our work – so we can take the next steps.”

Kylie says outside of the SJA caravans, many homeless people locally fall back on couch surfing and spare beds with friends, family and connections, or end up sleeping rough.

She advises those providing a couch or spare bed to reach out to local services like SEWACS and Mission Australia.

“We can help negotiate whatever terms the couch surfing might look like – how long it’s going to last, what the expectations around household chores might be, what financial contribution is expected.

“As a third party, we can come in independently and help manage that time and bring support services in behind the person.”

Think you can help the Social Justice Advocates? Contact Mick Brosnan on 0410 697 229 or [email protected]

To contact SEWACS phone 6492 2088 or 4474 3226 or Mission Australia on 4824 4000, 6491 2300 or [email protected]


What's Your Opinion?

10 Responses to Donated caravans filling the gap in regional homelessness

Connie Crawford Connie Crawford 12:23 am 08 Sep 19

Tiny Houses - popping up all over America and even in Australia.

Patricia Douglass Patricia Douglass 12:54 pm 07 Sep 19

Congratulations to the instigator of that great idea, well done 💜

Sam Stevenson Sam Stevenson 12:51 pm 07 Sep 19

Having worked alongside these amazing people in Homelessness for many years .... I can tell you that this has made the difference for people who just need a hand up on countless occasions..... hats off to you legends

Jennifer Buckett Jennifer Buckett 12:02 pm 07 Sep 19

This could happen across the country. Thank you for sharing. 😊👍

Jennifer Szery Jennifer Szery 9:24 am 07 Sep 19

Good work!

Matt Neenan Matt Neenan 8:00 am 07 Sep 19

Imagine if there was sufficient public housing without the need for wonderful mick and his advocates to create solutions?

Kerrie Ryan Kerrie Ryan 7:47 am 07 Sep 19

Wonderful that this is happening for people.

Julie Laughton Julie Laughton 7:44 am 07 Sep 19


Catherine Reilly Catherine Reilly 7:33 am 07 Sep 19

Wonderful story. I hadn’t heard of this group before.

Bronwyn Wright Bronwyn Wright 7:26 am 07 Sep 19

Fantastic! Great initiative.