Based on the 2016 census, over 116,000 Australians are experiencing homelessness. Of these, 8,200 are living in improvised dwellings, tents or sleeping out.

These are the hard realities that inspired Cornish College students to raise over $18,000 in support of charities for the homeless during the 2019 Annual Winter Sleepout held on Friday 14 June.

For the ninth consecutive year, 50 Cornish students from Year 6 to 12, along with alumni, staff, and two dogs spent a cold night sleeping in cardboard boxes on the campus decking, gaining a small insight into the plight of the many homeless who sleep rough during winter. The funds raised will purchase 180 award-winning Backpack Beds for Homeless.

Students didn’t stop with fundraising. The community also donated toiletries and food items that students packed on the night for Blessing Bags Melbourne. Over 100 blessing bags will be distributed to those in need, along with heart-warming messages of hope created by the students. Students didn’t stop with fundraising. In addition, over 100 Blessing Bags were packed on the night and will be distributed to those in need. Students created paper doves and hand written messages to contribute to the annual Star Health, City of Port Phillip Homeless Memorial held in St Kilda. Extra staff helpers and additional family members also assisted to cook sausages to feed the students.


Cornish Chaplin Jarrod Davies says, “On the night, we discuss the importance of putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, and how it can feel to have holes worn in your dignity due to homelessness. Our Social Justice Leaders and top fundraisers will deliver the backpack beds to Community Support Frankston and tour the facility. I am proud that our students continue to enthusiastically support the Winter Sleepout, with many returning year after year.”

With June seeing the coldest Melbourne weather since 1985, and regional areas with -3 degrees overnight lows, students can feel proud in their commitment to live the Cornish motto of ‘Make A Difference’ and their efforts to provide a practical solution that will keep people warm at night.

Thanks go to the ELC and Primary Students for decorating the cardboard boxes, to the many Cornish families who donated sandwich ingredients, and to the Dawe and Marshall families for support with organising cooking and tributes.

The Cornish community that we have been awarded ‘School of the Year’ as part of the Backpack Bed for Homeless Australia Day awards multiple times. Backpack Bed for Homeless (formerly known as Swags for Homeless) is a nationally accredited charity in Australia and winner of 2011 Australian Human Rights award for best Community Organisation; Australia’s highest honour. Founder Tony Clark and his wife Lisa designed the live saving Backpack Bed to give dignity to homeless turned away from shelter. Find out more at

Donations can still be made at