As an advocate for people sleeping rough, Dr Gregory P. Smith, OAM, is encouraging others to show compassion to those experiencing homelessness.
Speaking to River on the SCU Buzz podcast, Dr Smith said it’s important for the community to take the time to understand the issues surrounding homelessness and to have an empathetic approach.
“Most of these people didn’t dream of being rough sleepers and a burden on society when they were growing up. So, one of the things I think we need to be able to do with that understanding is to have the resources there to assist people,” Dr Smith said.
“Understanding that everybody has different needs is a really important thing. There’s no homogenised solution for this problem. It’s a very individual problem. Everybody has a different story and everybody hurts differently. Everybody experiences shame differently. The remedy to helping them is different.”
Dr Smith’s memoir, Out of the Forest, was published in 2018 and follows his battle with society and his experience of homelessness. Following a life of trauma, Dr Smith isolated himself in the rainforests of northern New South Wales for a decade. He found purpose in education and continued on to complete a Doctor of Philosophy at Southern Cross University. The memoir is now used in universities across the globe as a mental health text.
His second publication, Better Than Happiness: The True Antidote to Discontent, was recently published.
“The first book is the ‘what’ and the second book is the ‘how’. So, how did I change my life? How did I turn it around following a life of trauma and devastation? This book gives some insight into what I did, my thinking, setting goals and the importance of staying focused and understanding who I am,” he said.
“I’m very humbled and grateful that I’ve been able to help others walk away from their pain. If I can help just one or two people, that’s a great achievement.”