Cate Blanchett was on hand at Sydney Theatre on Friday (December 9th) to announce the winners of the Oasis Homelessness Short Film Competition which included finalists from every state and territory of Australia.Â Dozens of young Australians participated in the inaugural competition to raise awareness of homelessness in our community which we reported on here earlier this year.
Blanchett, Patron of the competition and long term supporter of this cause was also a member of the judging panel.Â Two second prize winners:Â the film Somebody\’s Child, made by students from Sydney\’s International Grammar School and Reach Out made by students from Nhulunbuy High School of the Northern Territory were awarded.Â Taking out first prize was Warrick Beanland from Harristown State High School for his film Homeless.Â He was awarded a total prize of $25,000 for the competition with $7000 awarded to Harristown State High by Shark Island Productions.
Cate commented that Warwick\’s film was “highly original and beautifully made.”Â It was produced, directed and completely animated by Warwick and a heartfelt production.
We were present for the film screenings of these amazing short productions and also a special performance by two students singing their composition that appeared in one of the films entered.Â Their music was added to a poetic piece written by a homeless individual.Â It was a powerful event that highlighted the incidence of youth homelessness as it has doubled in Australia over the last 20 years with 32,000 young people under 25 defined as homeless (including children under 12, this number increases to around 44,500 Source:Â ABS Census 2006)
We also had a chance to chat with Cate regarding her passion for this initiative:
“Well, I\’ve had a major connection with Oasis since I saw the first documentary that was screened here at the Sydney Theatre about three years ago.Â But obviously being a parent and I now have a son who is moving into his teenage years.Â He\’s just turned 10, and you\’re acutely aware as a parent who\’s able to provide a certain amount of safety and privilege for your children just how many children don\’t have that same experience, so I think your heart reaches out to children who are in dire circumstances.”
We congratulated Cate on such a wonderful platform for an important issue â€“ but we wanted to know what we could do to help:
“Well, the first thing is raising awareness.Â I think that supporting organisations like Oasis is a start.Â As one of the films said, they just want to be heard.Â People feel that they are invisible, it\’s almost like an epidemic, but when organisations like Oasis are supporting them on the ground, they have a deep understanding of the complexities surrounding the issues and enormous compassion.Â They also have the ability to deal with people at their level, not patronised, so I think it is wonderful that this competition raises awareness in students but it also highlights the work that\’s done at Oasis.”
Cate was generous with her time with the students, posing for photographs and congratulating them on their efforts.Â Far removed from her onscreen characters, Cate was compassionate, engaged and incredibly proud of the work these students had produced.
Oasis gives homeless and disadvantaged young people hope, help and opportunities to access relevant education, training, jobs, counselling, and drug/alcohol programs.Â Oasis cannot effectively undertake this intensive work until young people are off the street in a safe, stable environment.Â On any given night, Oasis helps to accommodate and feed more than 100 homeless young people.Â For more information, check out The Oasis Youth Support Network at http://salvos.org.au/oasis.
Photography Dave Petranker