ComfortDelGro Corporation Australia (CDC) is teaming up once again with charity organisation sleepbus to launch a new ‘pink sleepbus’ on the Sunshine Coast, calling for Australians to volunteer to help address the worsening homelessness crisis.
Sleepbus takes out-of-service buses and converts them into safe and secure overnight sleeping accommodation for people experiencing homelessness. Each bus can accommodate up to 20 guests in individual sleep pods.
Since its partnership with sleepbus began in 2019, CDC has now donated five buses to be fitted out into safe places to sleep along with providing fuel, mechanical repairs and storage at its local depots throughout the day.
The new pink sleepbus on the Sunshine Coast specifically provides a safe place for women and children sleeping rough. It joins the other sleepbus in the area that has provided 1026 safe sleeps for people and their pets doing it tough since its launch in mid-2022.
Homelessness across Australia continues to grow, with the number of homeless people increasing by 5.2 per cent to 122,494 between 2016 and 2021. The number of women experiencing homelessness also rose by 10.1 per cent in that period.
The recent cost of living crisis has seen this rise continue, with people nationally receiving Specialist Homelessness Service increasing by 7.4 per cent between January 2022 and June 2023. Around 57 per cent of women are also either homeless or at risk of it.
The partnership between sleepbus and CDC offers an immediate and cost-effective solution for the most vulnerable people in the community, helping them off the street or providing them with a safe and secure place to sleep until they’re able to get back on their feet.
Sleepbus services on the Sunshine Coast currently operate three nights a week between 8:30pm and 7am on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Sleepbus founder Simon Rowe says the organisation could offer its services on more nights if more Australians are willing to help.
“Our sleepbus service is operated by a 100 per cent volunteer workforce, and we’re calling on community members to get involved,” Rowe says.
“With more hands-on deck, the service will be able to operate more days, providing more people with a safe place to sleep.”
Rowe says that since starting operations in 2020, sleepbus has provided 2610 safe sleeps in Queanbeyan, the Sunshine Coast and Hervey Bay. Sleepbus operations will also commence shortly in Ballina and Sydney.
“It takes about nine people to look after each bus,” Rowe says.
“This includes a driver to take the bus to the location and another driver to bring them back, an overnight caretaker who has their own sleeping quarters on board, about three service volunteers to onboard guests and up to three housekeeping volunteers to clean the bus after every night’s use.
“There’s a range of ways people can help out and we know people’s lives change, so we don’t ask them to commit to regular shifts or hours. Whenever anyone has a few hours to commit, we welcome them with open arms.”
CDC CEO Nicholas Yap says the company is proud to support sleepbus by donating old buses and providing ongoing provision of operating services as it is an opportunity to give back to the communities it serves.
“We operate some of the largest public bus fleets across Australia and caring for communities is at the heart of everything we do,” Yap says.
“Our corporate value, We Care, is an integral part of our identity and our We Care philosophy is not just about serving customers and building a strong and respected workforce, but also giving something back to the communities we serve.
“This same consideration is the core driver behind sleepbus, and it was this shared value that drew us to the partnership.”
Yap says that sleepbus is the perfect partner for CDC as it can not only offer their end-of-use vehicles to be converted, but more importantly help provide respite for homeless people.
“This also gives opportunities for our people to build connections with the communities in the spirit of the values that define us and demonstrate their care,” Yap says.
“Even if it’s just for a single night, knowing our former buses and our teams are supporting Australians to have a safe and secure place to sleep is important to us as a business.”
Sleepbus’ individual sleep pods include a toilet, lockable door and USB charging port plus ducted heating and cooling.
The service is free for guests and operates on a no-judgment policy. Volunteers are also trained on the job while onboard security cameras ensure everyone enjoys a safe sleep.