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Hard questions were asked - Shark Tank-style - when Year 9 presented their proposals to alleviate problems experienced by homeless people.
Teams worked across two days on the Design Thinking project to come up with ideas to improve situations for homeless people. Mission Australia gave a presentation on homelessness; its causes and results, such as the Martin Place homeless camp, were aired. Ways to alleviate issues for homeless people were discussed, including awareness-raising to change prevailing attitudes and therefore encourage donations and practical services such as Orange Sky’s laundry in a truck.
Students’ proposals ranged from drug-injection sites offering safety and mental health support to a service matching homeless people with ‘homies’ or friends who can support them through counselling, job-seeking or other ardous processes. Combating what they saw as a core issue for homeless people, one team sought to break down social prejudice by presenting individuals’ photographs and stories on Instagram - to show how homelessness can happen to anyone.
Other ideas revolved around fresh food. One team’s proposal, ‘Seeds for Salvation’, proposed communal commercial vegetable gardens be based at existing hostels alongside cafes where homeless could also work. Another proposed partnership with a PR-seeking supermarket, using its trucks to deliver fresh but unsellable vegetables to homeless, who could be trained in truck driving and delivery procedures. Yet another group offered a multi-purpose service (first consultation free) which would include jobseekers’ support, psychological services as well as practicalities such as food, bathrooms, laundry and creche – with later visits on a subscription a basis of $50 per month.
The panel of sharks - teachers and a representative from Mission Australia - grilled the teams on how they would fund their projects, train their support people, and how they would persuade big business to partner with them. The winning team will be announced next week.