If there’s one thing that the Australian actor and musician Cameron Daddo now appreciates more than ever after being temporarily homeless, it’s the security of a front door.
Daddo, who experienced what it was like to be homeless in Sydney for 10 days as part of season two of SBS documentary Filthy Rich and Homeless, recalls what happened once the cameras turned off, the social experiment ended and he returned home.
“I felt really grateful for my life, family and all the things that I have,” says Daddo. “But one of the ‘things’ I immediately appreciated was my front door: the fact that I could put my bags behind it and close it. I didn’t have to worry about my stuff anymore [as I did when I was homeless] because this was ‘my’ front door that I had ‘my’ key to.
“I became hyper aware that over 100,000 homeless people are out there in Australia who don’t have the same privilege as I do: they don’t have their own front door to lock. It was very emotional.”
Daddo says the experience also taught him to value the financial independence that comes with having immediate access to cash.
“In the subsequent weeks after I participated in Filthy Rich and Homeless, I gave a lot of silent appreciation and gratitude for my fortune – because it is a fortune.”
But the biggest realisation that hit Daddo post-filming was that he now understood how homelessness felt, to a small degree, as he met and listened to homeless people that society had forgotten about.
Daddo created a new online initiative, Men’s Team, designed to give men the resources needed to start a male support group, better manage life’s stresses and, ideally, prevent homelessness in some cases.
“During my experience of homelessness, I realised that I didn’t meet anyone out there who came from a happy home. Humans don’t run away from something if they are happy – unless something is pushing them.
“So the express intention of Men’s Team is to help men to support men in an alcohol-free environment, where you’re not giving advice but listening to other people and sharing your own experience.
“If I can help men to communicate with each other more fully and more deeply than just getting pissed over a few beers and talking about the footy or cricket score, then they may actually talk about what’s going on in their lives. [The thought is] that we will then have happier men, happier relationships and children will be happier.
“Movember has gotten behind it, as has manup.org.au. So we are all working together to create happier men. I believe that when we have value, we feel better and when you start to feel better, things may start to turn around.”
Daddo now urges men who are struggling with issues in their life to give Men’s Team a go. For everyone else in the community, he asks one thing: “remember your humanity” next time you come across a homeless person and feel tempted to judge their situation.
“These people we are observing on the streets and in crisis accommodation are our brothers and sisters, and they need care. They need help and they assistance.”
If this article has raised an issue for you or you/someone you know is in need of support, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.
If you have experienced sexual assault or domestic and family violence, you can also receive counselling, information and support through 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732).
Filthy Rich and Homeless Season Two airs over three nights starting on Tuesday 14 August. The show continues tonight on SBS from 8.30pm. A special live studio program will air directly after Episode three.
Join the conversation #FilthyRichHomeless
Catch up on Episode two on SBS On Demand.