Australians Challenged to 'Hush for Homelessness'

Australians are being challenged to stay "hushed" for at least an hour on Friday to help raise funds for the 105,000 homeless men, woman and children in the country.

Mission Australia, a community service organization, is running "Hush for Homelessness" with the theme "Say nothing and do something for homeless Australians."

"HUSH for Homelessness symbolizes the 'invisible' and 'voiceless' lives that homeless Australians lead," according to organizers. "Mission Australia challenges you to experience what it's like to be voiceless, by not speaking for an hour (or more!) on Friday ... and to seek sponsorship for your silence."

Thousands are participating in the event that is said to be the country's biggest fundraising meet aimed at tackling the problem of homelessness.

According to Mission Australia, half of Australians who have no place to call home are under the age of 25 and 10,000 are children under 12 years old.

Participants during the event will mobilize funds and seek sponsorship from family and friends as they do their part to keep silent.

The funds raised will go to Mission Australia's services providing crisis care, transitional or medium-term accommodation and essential support for the homeless.

Mission Australia's CEO, Toby Hall, is urging participation and donations, saying "it's wrong for us to accept homelessness."

"It's wrong that we've got a lady on our streets, only 200 meters from here, who hasn't got a bed to go to. It's wrong that tonight we'll have a mum and dad, and their kids sleeping in a car. And it's wrong that we've got teenagers having to sleep with men so they've got somewhere to have a bed for the night," Hall said.

"But that is what's happening in our city – and it's not a long way from here every night if you walk through the square you will see homeless people – and its wrong and we should not accept it."

He suggested that people nominate their boss to "zip it" and have the office donate funds to keep him or her quiet for an hour.

"When I offered to take part in Hush for Homelessness last year I was inundated with staff sponsoring me – and I'm confident I'll get a similar response today," Hall joked.

Catriona Rowntree and Jono Coleman are two notable celebrities partaking in the event.

"This isn't the first time I've been asked to zip it, but it is for the best cause," said Rowntree. "I will Hush for Homelessness for the 105,000 Australians without a home. Sponsor me to keep quiet for an hour and give homeless Aussies a voice."

Coleman commented, "My whole career has been made from talking on the radio and TV. It was far too big a challenge for me not to get involved in this event. Not speaking for an hour is hard but not impossible. I encourage everyone to participate in Hush for Homelessness."

On the Web: www.hushforhomelessness.com.au