‘Humans of Homelessness’ is a 45-minute documentary about the human face of homelessness. The film follows the touching journey of Jai Jaru, a Thai born woman who was adopted by a family in Adelaide. She came to Australia 20 year ago to 'jump of the Harbour Bridge' and ends up homeless on and off for twenty years.
Jai develops and interest in photography when she meets Mike and the pair strike up an unlikely friendship as he takes his photo competition to the streets of Sydney. ho spent twenty years the surprising and emotional twists and turns as they tell their stories. We reveal how Jai sees the world, what it was like for her in that dark time and how discovering photography has changed her life. The story culminates in her solo exhibition. This is a story of the importance of home, of human frailty in a self-absorbed society, and ultimately finding connection, purpose and hope.
A short summary of the issue the documentary is addressing
Over 100,000 Australians face homelessness. This is an uplifting but sobering story of the reality faced by the homeless in inner Sydney. The film seeks to show the human side of the characters, how they embark on a mission to capture images that inspire them, and reveal their world.
One hundred people who are experiencing homelessness emerge to collect their single use film cameras at locations around Sydney as part of a photographic competition run by Homeless in Focus, an organisation that seeks to connect people affected by homelessness with the wider community.
We meet Jai Jaru, hear her remarkable story and how she ended up homeless and we are taken on a journey around homeless Sydney. We get a glimpse into how she sees and experiences her world. We learn that the difficulties that homeless face are much more complex than we can ever imagine.
What is the impact vision statement of the documentary?
We want this film to change the way people perceive the homeless – from the invisible and unfortunate, to human beings with creativity and dreams, just like us. We are all one and the homeless are no exception. Mostly they were unloved, abused or abandoned. They don’t fit in but still yearn what we all need as humans – love and connection. As a society we have a responsibility to ensure they are not abandoned. This story humanises and gives dignity to the invisible people within our community.
What outcomes does the project hope to achieve from making this documentary?
It is hoped the film will help raise awareness of homelessness in general but also create an attitudinal shift where people are better understood. To understand that their world does not necessarily involve living rough on the streets, that homeless people come from many different backgrounds and from many circumstances, often beyond their control.
Viewers will see the human side and hopefully be less quick to judge and more open to being compassionate and understanding of their circumstances, to feel motivated to help in some way.
In the medium term I would like to see a greater understanding and policy change, greater investment in homeless services and governments finding more innovative ways to deal with the issue of homelessness. Providing housing alone is no longer a solution. We need to empower people with tools, connection and dignity. We need to show empathy, respect, in order to help them to find their own solutions rather than relying on others to solve their problems.
How will partnerships with this project help inform the project development?
Through recent financial sponsorship with Fuji, it is also hoped the film will enable producers to encourage other organisations who have photo printing facilities (such as Harvey Norman, Big W, Office Works) to potentially stock and sell the calendars, with proceeds going back to the homeless photographers themselves. This is empowering for them, and encourages them to continue engaging with the project.
Canon Australia supported this film project by contributing the use of a Canon C200 camera for the film shoot in July-August 2018. This was awarded to the project due to the important issues this documentary addresses, as part of the 'Show us What's Possible' campaign. Canon will be continuing to support this documentary project.
We have also and will continue to consult with City of Sydney Council, Mission Australia, Rough Edges, Wayside Chapel, Lou's Place and other organisations who are involved in homelessness issues.
Audience Engagement and Social Impact
What actions does this project hope for its viewers after seeing this film?
A ‘Humans for Homelessness’ portal will be developed to compliment the documentary, to help raise more awareness around the issues of homelessness in Australia, using the stories from the project to connect people to the community. A multi-platform strategy will help us see the world through the eyes of a homeless person. It will be raise awareness of the issues, increase engagement in the project and grow an audience for the documentary.
It will help us see the importance of cutting through our differences, that we are all connected. It is an opportunity for homeless people particularly to feel connected to something bigger than their problems. It will be made available to schools and other educational institutions and governments as a resource to connect to the real stories of people in our community affected by homelessness. It puts a 'human' face on homelessness, not just figures and statistics.
Measurement and Evaluation
What is the projects indicators for success?
We will know when we have achieved our vision when people are talking about the film in the media, particularly after the launch. The next competition will be held in early 2020, just in time for the launch of the film. The calendars will then be shown in an exhibition, after the has been film has been launched. We will be able to do alot of media around that, which will be a good opportunity to measure success of the film. We will also know we have achieved our vision by attendance at the screening events around the city, which will occur post film launch. We will also be able to specifically measure success by the sales of calendars on the website, which will be released in September 2020, and also measure hits on the web portal.