Better Shelter and the CEO Sleepout
Museums are not just about objects and visitor numbers; they’re about social outcomes that make our cultures and communities better for all. It is for this reason that we were thrilled to host last night’s Canberra/Goulburn St Vinnie’s CEO Sleepout.
In a city with the second highest homelessness rate in Australia, over 90 CEOs bedded down here in Canberra on slim pieces of cardboard during a night that slipped down to -3ºC. For our Director Daryl Karp, participating for the first time in the event, this was an exercise in both walking the walk as well as talking the talk:
‘In recognising every Australian’s right to shelter, MoAD was delighted to be hosting this year’s sleepout. One thing we need most in a flourishing democracy is the capacity to decide, to have agency. MoAD empowers Australians of today and to be informed citizens to be able to tackle the big issues such as homelessness in the hope that we can come together to solve these problems in the future.’
The museum was pleased to be able to showcase to last night’s participants some of the work we have been doing around the issue of homelessness over the last couple of years.
In our permanent children’s exhibition PLAY UP, we are focused on Article 27 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child – the Right to Shelter. Through a suite of playful programs, hands-on exhibition activities and events, the museum asks families to explore the right to shelter and to imagine how different life would be without a bedroom, their favourite food or a warm jacket.
In honour of last night’s CEO Sleepout, the museum installed our innovative Better Shelter exhibition. This began in 2015 as a unique partnership with the IKEA Foundation, UNHCR and a group of brilliant young designers in Sweden in order to bring to Australia their revolutionary solution to homelessness in some of the most dangerous parts of the world. The outcome is an award-winning example of democratic design that incorporates state of the art technology with a strong commitment to social justice in order to serve some of the poorest communities in the world.
Better Shelter is a home for a family of six that comes flat packed in two medium sized boxes. It can be put up with only four tools within four hours, it has a solar powered light that can also charge a mobile phone, mosquito netting for doors and windows and a lock for the door.
It gives those who are most vulnerable a sense of safety, security and dignity and has been deployed to displaced and refugee communities in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East.
Late last year Better Shelter won the world’s most prestigious design award from the British Design Museum; Time Magazine also listed it in 2016 as one of the top 25 inventions that have made the world a better place.
As one CEO put it, Better Shelter is an excellent example of the powerful synergies between the work the museum is doing and Vinnies. Whether it is tackling homelessness, healthcare, education or democracy, we are all working to achieve a better social outcome for our community.