ACU students sleep out to help ACT’s homeless

Friday, 3 August 2007

Canberra August 3, 2007: Australian Catholic University (ACU) students at the Canberra Campus (Signadou) have braved the cold to raise much-needed funds for the ACT’s homeless.

More than 20 students took part in a ‘winter sleep-out’ on campus last night, which raised more than $700 for the purchase of specially designed portable beds called Street Swags.

“We wanted to try and help Canberra’s homeless by easing the cold and discomfort in their lives during winter, when sleeping on the street is even harder than usual,” stated Canberra Campus Student Association President Kathleen Dixon.

“When we heard about Street Swags through the University last year, we thought it was a fantastic idea and decided that we could do something to help.”

Street Swags, designed by ACU graduate and Brisbane school teacher Jean Madden, are a lightweight and waterproof alternative to conventional bedclothes. Each swag contains a high density foam mattress and can easily roll up to hold possessions secure, while looking like a normal bag.  Ms Madden decided to design the swags after watching an ABC TV documentary about homelessness and the physically crippling effect of sleeping on the street.

The swags are manufactured using donations and distributed via street based charities, such as The Salvation Army, Rosies and Club 139. Local companies supply the foam and canvas at cost price and donations have helped to bring the manufacturing price down to $43 per unit. Since it began in 2005, the project has produced and distributed over 1000 swags to homeless people across Australia. To make a tax deductible donation, visit

Australian Catholic University (ACU) – established as Australia’s only Catholic, national, publicly funded university – is open to all. The University empowers its students and staff with a strong sense of social responsibility and concern for the moral and ethical dimensions of their study and their professional and personal lives.