ON THE first night of winter, most people are thinking of the warmth, comfort and security of their own home.
For a group of 50 McAuley Catholic College staff and students, it was the night to experience the torments of homelessness.
"The night was an experience to raise awareness about homelessness and as a charity fundraiser for St Vincent de Paul," organiser Matthew Lobsey said.
"The students slept on cardboard on the cement so were exposed to the cold, hard ground," he said.
"The students were forced to consider the dignity of a homeless person who has to sleep in the open."
The local community again showed its support.
A basic soup meal was donated by Farmer Lou's and Georgie's Restaurant, while Hank's Kitchen donated the bread and Notaras Timbers donated the firewood.
Most seemed happy to endure the difficult conditions for the sake of learning.
"Homelessness is very mentally confronting and uncomfortable," Year 10 student Kealy Day said.
"I respect homeless people more than I did," classmate Noah Hodgson said.
"Now you realise how difficult it really is," Jack Morrissey added.
The 2011 St Vincent de Paul National Overview stated that in the last year 84,000 children tried to get help from a homeless service in Australia.
It is a problem linked to economic hardship and poverty.
The annual St Vincent de Paul Society Winter Appeal is on now and donations can be made through their website or in store.