On Thursday 20 June, TAFE Queensland General Manager on the Gold Coast, Karen Dickinson, will sleep out on one of the longest and coldest nights of the year as part of the 2019 Vinnies CEO Sleepout.

For Ms Dickinson it is only one night of discomfort, but for more than 116,000 Australians — including 22,000 Queenslanders — homelessness is real.

Ms Dickinson said one of the most devastating things she has ever witnessed was seeing an entire family living on the streets of Los Angeles.

“I saw a woman, a man and their two young children with a sign that read, I lost my job six weeks ago and couldn’t afford to pay the rent and now my family and I are homeless – please help,” she said.

“I had encountered homeless people before as my job as a community-based nurse, but to see a family with children was just so confronting and extremely heartbreaking.”

Throughout her life Ms Dickinson has had an array of careers which all led to providing people with access to their fundamental rights such as shelter, health and now education in her role as General Manager of TAFE Queensland on the Gold Coast.

Ms Dickinson said she is a strong believer that having an education is important to reduce the number of homelessness.

“A number of people become homeless because of inadequate education and training which means they lack the skills to find employment to pay for a roof over their head,” she said.

“Being homeless also leads to people dropping out of school, university and TAFE which unfortunately just continues the cycle.”

“At TAFE Queensland we support people, including the homeless, to get an education and build the skills they need to secure a job and a better future.”

To help break the devastating cycle of homelessness, Ms Dickinson needs your support by helping her reach her goal of raising $5,000.


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