Congupna Primary School Year 3 student Charlie Gauci, 9, showed compassion beyond his years when he helped a homeless man.
Charlie and his mother Tracy were shopping near Shepparton’s Aldi supermarket when they saw a man named Richard.
‘‘He had nothing, just three bags, and he was just sitting down, not having a good time,’’ Charlie said.
Completely stunned by what he was seeing, Charlie and his mother approached Richard and brought him some coffee and two-minute noodles.
After Charlie and Mrs Gauci gave Richard some groceries, he shared his story with them about how he became homeless.
Richard had come from Tasmania and worked as a fruit picker in the region until he could no longer find work or afford to live anywhere.
Charlie said the experience made him feel sad and that night he sat down and wrote a letter to State Member for Shepparton Suzanna Sheed.
‘‘I talked about how there should be a homeless shelter,’’ Charlie said.
Mrs Gauci said it was important Charlie learned about homelessness.
‘‘Charlie sees homeless people when we got into the city of Melbourne and so we’ve always talked about how people have become homeless and what leads people to homelessness,’’ she said.
‘‘I think it’s really important because it’s a big issue and it’s important that you talk to your kids about these issues because they see it, I think it’s something that can’t be hidden.’’
Charlie received a letter back from Ms Sheed, detailing what was being done by the the Victorian Government and different agencies to reduce homelessness.
Ms Sheed pointed to the positive impact the Education First Youth Foyer was having in Shepparton as also the government’s Rapid Housing Assistance Fund Initiative.
Although Charlie appreciated Ms Sheed’s letter, he felt it did not quite address all his concerns.
‘‘She did not say anything about a homeless shelter,’’ he said.
Ms Sheed told The News she would be happy to support a homeless shelter in Shepparton if someone came to her with a proposal for one.
Ms Sheed said it was important to recognise that providing people with stable homes to permanently live in was a key to solving homelessness, whereas a shelter might give them only a temporary roof over their heads.
Ms Sheed said she wanted to ask the government to do an audit into public housing to see how many homes were vacant. She also wanted to see if a similar audit could be arranged for private homes.