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Deputy mayor walks the walk in homeless shoes

Deputy mayor walks the walk in homeless shoes

Deputy mayor walks the walk in homeless shoes

30 May 2020

Melbourne Deputy Lord Mayor Arron Wood and Salvation Army Project 614 leader Major Brendan Nottle. 

By Barry Gittins

Winter 2019 was different for Melbourne Deputy Lord Mayor Arron Wood. Instead of going bush, hitting the slopes, cosying up to a welcoming fireplace or flying his family to some tropical idyll, Arron was unceremoniously dropped in The Rocks in Sydney.

No phone. No money. No get-out-of-jail card. Just the clothes on his back, which thankfully included a cheap rain jacket. “It rained, rained and rained,” he recalls wryly. 

Two nights sleeping rough was the painful start of 10 days spent homeless in New South Wales, on SBS’s award-winning doco, Filthy Rich & Homeless. Arron joined a doctor, a restaurateur, a comedian and a model in the third series.

After The Rocks, Arron spent time at The Salvation Army’s Foster House in inner-city Surry Hills experiencing crisis and longer-term accommodation.

He then joined Phil and his dog Lily, sleeping in their car outside a public park in Wollongong. He finished his homelessness immersion by crashing at a boarding house in Newcastle.

“The impact on me, even though it was only 10 days, was huge,” Arron says. “There was fear, confusion, loss of hope, thankfulness, and frustration at the system. This will stay with me for life.

“It was amazing that, by and large, the people I met welcomed me and trusted me with their stories – that was a surprise to me.”

Arron’s fundraising through the show goes to aid the work of The Salvation Army Melbourne Project 614. You can watch Arron and his fellow Season 3 Filthy Rich & Homeless participants on SBS at 8.30 p.m. on 9,10 and 11 June.

Arron also has a Red Shield Appeal digital doorknock fundraising page that people can donate to: 

Referring to Project 614 in Melbourne and its leader Major Brendan Nottle, Arron says: “In Melbourne, they know almost every rough sleeper by name. They treat them as people, they give them respect, clothe them, feed them and help them access services to find a pathway out of homelessness. They place people in long-term accommodation through Magpie Nest.”

Magpie Nest is a partnership between Melbourne Project 614 and the Collingwood Football Club Foundation. It provides stable and affordable accommodation in a clean and safe environment, where tenants are involved in volunteering in other programs at Melbourne Project 614 and attend regular house meetings and individual catch-ups.

“Please donate to these selfless amazing volunteers and the wonderful Major Brendan Nottle,” Arron says.





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