Graham Lee tells his story of how Community @ 3 came to be

Graham Lee wants to help change people’s attitudes towards the homeless. 

“There’s a stereotype that people who live on the streets are doing drugs, are alcoholics, violent or bludgers but that’s not true,” he said. 

Graham said anyone can become homeless no matter who you are, or what your background is. 

Before he lost his home, his family and his business Graham was living a comfortable life in Bonny Hills. 

He lost everything in just six weeks. 

Graham said he packed up his ute and left Bonny Hills with $1000 and his tools. 

During the four years Graham was homeless he said there were a lot of dark times and he had suicidal thoughts on occasion. 

“I had absolutely nothing,” he said. 

“I was in the bush by myself and that’s not a good place to be.” 

Support came from Graham’s close friendship group. 

He said it took a lot of courage to explain to them he had lost everything. 

“Males tend to have a lot of pride and I didn’t want people to know I had failed,” he said. 

“However I learnt to take help when someone offers it” 

Graham said his close friends would invite him over to have a meal and he would shower at the caravan park for $3. 

Positive mentality 

It’s up to the individual, Graham said to turn their lives around for the better.

“It’s no good having a negative attitude because you’ll never believe you'll be able to achieve anything,” he said. 

“I’ve never met anyone who says they are going to grow up to be homeless.

“It just happens.” 

Graham said he doesn’t want to own another property in Bonny Hills. He is happy living life by being mobile.

When you live on $16,000 a year, Graham said you tend to stop worrying about materialistic things in life and start focusing on what really matters. 

Graham said when he has repaid debts from his business and starts earning a profit, he will give anything extra to those who need it most. 

Community @ 3

Graham said the plan to start Community @ 3 to help those on the streets came to him at 2am in the morning. 

The first group was established in the Camden Haven with a weekly barbecue in 2016. The event provides an opportunity for those in need to meet and then link to support. Since its establishment, the group has expanded to Wauchope. 

Graham would like to concept to eventually expand across the nation. 

He would like similar groups in the area to unite to work towards the common cause of establishing emergency accommodation for people who need it. 

“Ideally some acreage would be perfect for setting up a sustainable lifestyle for people,” he said. 

Statistics 

The latest figures released from the Australian Bureau of Statistic show a frightening picture of homelessness across Australia.

The data shows both an increase in the number of people who were homeless as well as an increase in the homeless rate.

It’s gone up from 48 persons for every 10,000 persons in 2011 to 50 persons for every  10,000 persons in 2016. 

Overall, on census night 2016, 116,427 people were counted as homeless.

Under-18s make up 27 per cent of people experiencing homelessness. And this figure is likely to be an under-count due to the limitations of the Census as a vehicle for capturing people aged 12-18 who are staying temporarily with friends and relatives. 

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