For tens of thousands of homeless Australians, finding employment to change their lot is a huge challenge.
By
Alexandra Fisher

29 Aug 2018 - 4:36 PM  UPDATED 30 Aug 2019 - 1:49 PM

Most mornings before the sun rises, you’ll find Keegan Crage running through the streets of his home city Perth.

“I've been in love with running since I was probably about eight or nine and it's been a big part of my life,” he tells The Few Who Do in episode 14. “Running is pure, it's simple. You get out of it what you put in, just like life.”

It was during these dark, often wet, morning runs that Keegan passed something he could not ignore: people sleeping under what little shelter they could find.

“You'd run past people and you'd see them on a bench, or under a tree, or in a doorway,” he says. “I started to reflect on their circumstances and contrast that with my situation.”

Keegan is a successful businessman and accountant, with five degrees under his belt. He started his first business when he was 17. In his spare time he runs ultra marathons. Keegan wondered how he could use his skills to help Perth’s homeless.

“It was a seed that grew in my mind over a period of time. It was very much a case of: can I use running to help them lead a better life?” he tells The Few Who Do.

On any given night, an estimated 116,000 Australians are homeless. You won’t just find them on the streets, but in shelters, crisis accommodation, boarding houses and on friends’ couches. Their reasons for being homeless are varied and complex. They may be dealing with high rent, relationship breakdown, debt, mental illness, sudden unemployment, or domestic violence.

In episode 14 of The Few Who Do, co-hosts Jan Fran and Marc Fennell dive into the problem with two people trying to help the homeless, in different ways.  You’ll meet The Big Issue’s CEO Steven Persson, who is assisting thousands of Australians find self-sufficiency through employment. And you’ll hear more from Keegan Crage on how he started On My Feet to help homeless people build confidence and find work through running.

Keegan connected with homeless people through a shelter. He was invited by staff to meet homeless people over breakfast and see if any were interested in going for a run.

“[It] was a little bit confronting because I hadn't had a lot of interaction with homeless people. I didn't know a lot about their circumstances and I wasn't sure how the idea was going to be received,” he says.

But by the end of breakfast, Keegan had a running team ready to meet at a local oval a week later.  From those running sessions, On My Feet was born and today has expanded into Melbourne, Sydney and Cape Town, getting homeless Australians working again through running.  

Street magazine The Big Issue is taking a different approach to getting homeless people into work. Presenting well in a CV or for a job interview is among the biggest barriers to finding employment for homeless people. The magazine – which started in Australia 23 years ago – offers a way around that.

 “You could walk or roll through our door dressed as you are. Give us whatever tag name you choose. And we would say welcome…” CEO of The Big Issue Steven Persson tells The Few Who Do. “And we would put you through a limited training course. We would put you in our vest.”

These vests are just one way to spot The Big Issue’s vendors on street corners throughout major Australian cities. In the podcast, you’ll hear from one of those vendors: Marcus. When he first turned up to The Big Issue’s headquarters in Melbourne, he was handed a pile of magazines then hit the streets. He’s been with The Big Issue for 22 years working in Melbourne and Sydney.

“I'm a big believer in eye contact to say good morning.  I say ‘well [it’ll] be a good morning after you had coffee’ and that sort of thing,” Marcus tells The Few Who Do.  “So I basically say hello to people and eventually those people have come and started buying mags off me.”

In the podcast, you'll hear more about how the magazine has changed Marcus’ life and hundreds of others — including a growing number of women — by offering employment at the magazine and opportunities beyond that.

“They get on their feet or they get the income they need or the confidence they need and then they find their own path,” says Steven Persson.

To hear more, listen to episode 14 of The Few Who Do, hosted by Jan Fran and Marc Fennell.

 

LISTEN TO EPISODE 14

If you’re homeless or facing a crisis, you can search the website: askizzy.org.au to find food, a place to stay, legal advice near you. If you would like to talk to someone, Lifeline is available on 13 11 14.

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Introducing 'The Few Who Do'

Two hosts, one problem, two possibilities...

Presented by Jan Fran and Marc Fennell 'The Few Who Do' tackles the big questions in society and culture today.

We’ll hear personal stories from Australians with big ambitions, entrepreneurs and small business owners advocating for change.

The Few Who Do is an SBS podcast with CGU Insurance.

Dropping into your feed August 30

 

Two Hosts, One Problem, Two Possibilities


 

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