Sydney is known for its many beggars, but not everyone has an affinity for the city’s homeless.
As a result, the homeless are sometimes confused for regular people, and the word “gigantic” is used to describe the average person’s height.
The term gigantism has been coined to describe a “giant” who’s constantly standing at attention or standing on someone’s shoulders.
“I think it’s a bit of a misnomer,” Dr Michael Fyfe, the head of Sydney’s homelessness charity, said.
“If you think about what the average Australian is like, they are not very tall, they aren’t very thin and they aren [also] very much not socialised in the way that people in Australia would like to be.”
While a “baggage train” is common in the suburbs, in the inner west and in Sydney’s inner south, people in the outer suburbs have little exposure to this kind of behaviour.
“You might think, ‘Oh, that’s not a problem for the homeless’, but it is for the average family,” Dr Fyffes said.
“People don’t really have a social life outside of their own families.”
Mr Fyfes said it was not uncommon for people in these areas to be homeless for several years.
“People just feel it’s not going to be a big deal, because it’s just like, ‘Why would you need a tent?’,” he said.
For those who are homeless, the problem of getting a job can be frustrating.
“There are a lot of people who have been on the streets for a long time, and are not in a position to get a job,” Dr Tom Wetherill, the chief executive of the Australian Institute of Criminology, said in a statement.
“It’s not uncommon to see people in particular groups that are very vulnerable, and they may be homeless and on the street for quite some time.”
The homeless in Sydney are also more likely to be on welfare, and for some, that can lead to problems with their eligibility for housing assistance.
“When you get on the welfare system, they can be quite a big burden,” Dr Wetherills said.”[But] there are a number of people in that group who are working and on benefits.”
The lack of public awareness has led to some people being “shamed” for being homeless, Dr Fymers said.
A lot of these people have mental health issues and the stigma that comes with it, Dr Wherrys said.
Dr Fyfing said the homeless population had a lot to contribute to society, and that a more proactive approach would be welcomed.
“The more we can educate people, the more we try and help people, I think that’s really important,” he said, adding that if it were to become more prevalent, it could help prevent a number people from being homeless in the first place.
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