Photo: Cole Bennetts, from Sydney Morning Herald
Jaike Digney, 18, has been homeless since he was 14. In that time he has been on and off the streets, in and out of refuges – “pretty much every one in Sydney”, he says. For six months he lived in a fire escape at a hotel near Central. He has slept under the rail bridge in Woolloomooloo. For the past three weeks his makeshift bedroom has been below the light rail viaduct that runs through Glebe’s Wentworth Park.
“It’s cold, it’s wet on bad days,” he says. However, it’s a bed and shelter. “A place to hide out from the rest of the world.”
On any given night, 105,000 Australians are without a home. Sleeping rough, Jaike is at the extreme end of an unpleasant, ever-changing spectrum; a world of emergency refuges, overcrowded lodges, friends’ couches. It is also a world of the young and naive, as 40 per cent of the country’s homeless are under 25.