Ex Stone Pillow (EXSP) was an initiative established in 2013 by a then current serving member of the Australian Army CPL Elena Rowland. The initiative is an annual sleep out in the streets to replicate the living conditions of our homeless Veterans.
EXSP mission is two-fold, firstly to bring attention to the need for a better understanding of the issue of homelessness within the Australian Veteran Community, and secondly to raise funds for organisations who provide housing and support to homeless veterans and their families.
The first EXSP event was in Sept 2013 where CPL Rowland gathered about 30 supporters to sleep in a park with her in West End QLD. CPL Rowland raised more than $6000 on this night and gave the funds to Mates4mates who do preventative work with veterans.
The Premier of Queensland at the time, Campbell Newman commended CPL Rowland’s work with EXSP and awarded her an invitation to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge State Conference luncheon held on Easter weekend in 2014. She was invited to be a representative of the people working for the welfare of the homeless, and was presented to Her Royal Highness Kate Middleton where she got to talk about her mission.
At the end of 2013 whilst conducting research into Veteran homelessness, CPL Rowland discovered a shelter – Remembrance House – in Burpengary and mobilised a team to help her raise awareness and funds for this shelter. She organised EX SP on the 18th Oct out at the Homeless shelter and raised more than $8,000 which was used for building a family barbecue area on the property.
In 2014 CPL Rowland got commended by the Chief of Army for her work with veterans and got awarded the “I’m an Australian Soldier’ scholarship in recognition of her initiative.
At the end of 2014 CPL Rowland got in touch with a friend Ex Commando Geoff Evans who works for RSL LifeCare which is an organisation that provides accommodation for veterans. The two met in 2013 and CPL Rowland informed Mr Evans the crisis happening with these veterans. Since that initial meeting Mr Evans constructed a program designed for contemporary Veterans called ‘Home for Heroes.’ So far it is the only program aimed at homeless veterans in Australia. Thats year EXSP has adopted the new program and EXSP 2015 aims to promote this program and raise an extra dollar to help it get established.
Last year EXSP16 will be held at Dorrington Park, Ashgrove QLD on Sat 17th Oct to coincide with Veterans Health week. The event was designed for anybody to take part in and we encourage both Servicemen and ex servicemen as well as the general public to participate. The event had a program with numerous activities taking place throughout the day/night including demonstrations from cadets, boot camp challenge, activities for kids, sunset memorial service, Live Army Band, afternoon tea catered by the Sallyman, a soup kitchen, and VIP’s. The event finished on 18th Oct after a BBQ breakfast.
Funds raised were donated to Wattle House and their Mates Stay Program
"Human dignity begins the day you can call a place home". Unknown