Mandurah Couch Surfing Race: Organisations challenging homeless stereotypes

More than 13 Mandurah organisations are decorating couches to race at an annual event challenging homeless stereotypes held by the community. 

Passages Youth Engagement Hub will host Mandurah’s second Couch Surfing Race, on August 9 from 12pm to 2pm, at the Eastern Foreshore.

Peel Passages youth worker Jade Gillespie said the event, held on Homeless Awareness Day, highlighted the many forms of homelessness in Mandurah. 

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“The purpose is to raise awareness of different ways homelessness presents itself,” she said.

“We want to break down the misconceptions people have.

“Homelessness does not just look like the old man on the street in rags...it is not always as identifiable as people perceive it to be.”

Ms Gillespie said they categorised levels of homelessness into three tiers, being primary secondary and tertiary.

We are trying to raise awareness to the fact that it is a very big issue, and on the rise.

Peel Passages youth worker Jade Gillespie

“Primary could be car dwelling, sleeping on the beach or at the foreshore,” she said.

“Secondary is couch surfing, living in crisis accommodation or at a refuge.

“Lastly, tertiary could be living in a private rental or at home but still needing support to not become homeless.”

Ms Gillespie said there were dozens of “hidden” homeless people in Mandurah, who led fairly normal lives, but lived out of their cars.

“They go to work as normal and the kids go to school,” she said.

“We are trying to raise awareness to the fact that it is a very big issue, and on the rise.”

More organisations have joined the race this year, which Ms Gillespie said was “refreshing”. 

“There are so many services working together for the same outcome,” she said. 

These include Palmerston, Pat Thomas House, City of Mandurah, Peel Community Legal Services, Halo and Peel Youth Services.

Ms Gillespie said there would be pop-up stalls, free items games and competitions on the day.

“We are not raising money...we are raising awareness,” she said.