Writer: Steven Tan
Photographer: Steven Tan
In this photo essay, Steven Tan reveals the tough life of those who live rough on Melbourne streets.
My friend, Matthew, is a really good person. He stood at Melbourne Central that night asking for food and money to afford accommodation at Backpacker in Elizabeth Street.
A homeless woman sleeps in the street with a very thin blanket.
A homeless man reading while people pass him by.
A homeless person sitting at Flinders Street waiting for pedestrians to approach him and give him spare change to buy food and drink.
I met Matthew when he came into Nandos where I work, to change money. He used to be a forklift driver before he ended up on the street. Matthew lost his parents at a young age and has survived on his own from a young age. He often sleeps at the Salvation Army.
Another guy know quite well is Shane, who I met in Collins Street a few months ago. Shane told me that he worked as a painter, before living on the streets. But his life changed, when three of his family members died. He later became homeless when he struggled to afford medical costs when his girlfriend was diagnosed with cancer.
Through my conversations with Shane and Matthew, I found that something homeless people need besides money, food and accommodation is acceptance from society. We need to engage with them first to help understand their needs.
My project for this photo essay is to encourage readers to actually start to care for the homeless people in the street; don’t stereotype them as a bad or a weird person. Shane said to me, that when people stare it makes him feel like a bad guy.
Steven studies Bachelor of Accounting at VU Footscray.