Photography DAVE WHEELER Styling IRENE TSOLAKAS Interview ADRIENNE TAM
o phone. No wallet. And no toothbrush. Not even a hair tie. The only things Alli Simpson was allowed to have during the 10 days she spent homeless on the streets of Sydney were a sleeping bag and the clothes on her back. And even those weren’t hers.“the clothes I had on were taken from me and I was just put in simple clothing – a T-shirt, jeans and a pair of sneakers,” Simpson tells Stellar. “I was sent out into the streets with nothing. It was a really weird feeling. Going into it, I didn’t think it was going to be as hard as it was once everything was gone, and it was just me and my soul.”
The 20-year-old singer is one of five high-profile Australians who signed up to participate in Season 2 of SBS’S Filthy Rich & Homeless, a social experiment that pits the wealthy and privileged against the unforgiving streets of the nation’s most expensive city. The latest Census shows that 116,427 Australians have no place to call home, so Simpson felt it was important to do more than just commit a few numbers to memory. But she still hesitated before agreeing to jump in.
“I was nervous,” Simpson admits. “It’s definitely not the easiest thing to be involved in. But I knew it would be a lifechanging and humbling experience, and I knew it would help a lot of people. That’s what drove me to do it.”
This is not the first time she has been involved with efforts to raise awareness around social causes. Her previous role as Youth Engagement Officer on Radio Disney in the US when she was 17 proved she could be a passionate advocate for anti-bullying and equality. “I was always the kid at school that would sit with the kid who was eating lunch alone,” says Simpson who, along with entertainer brother Cody, 21, was raised on the Gold Coast. “There were the tables where all the people would be eating together with their friends, and there would be one person sitting by themselves. I would always go over and say ‘Are you OK?’ or eat lunch with them. I didn’t care what anyone else thought. That made me happy.”