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Kayakers risk lives to tackle homelessness

21 January 2016

Kayakers risk lives to tackle homelessness

Three Sydney men will kayak 400km across the dangerous and unpredictable Bass Strait from Victoria to Tasmania this month in order to raise funds for The Salvation Army’s youth homelessness services.

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David Linco, 48, Mark Hempel, 44, and Rodrigo Matamala, 33, will kayak up to 12 hours a day in shark-infested waters and battle some of the most frightening weather conditions in the world over the course of three weeks.

Their aim is to raise $40,000 for The Salvation Army's Oasis Youth Support Network, which is based in Surry Hills, Sydney.

David, a financial planner and a Christian for the past 20 years, says the trio will begin their journey, weather permitting, on Saturday 13 February from Port Welshpool in the south Gippsland region, and aim to finish at Musselrow Bay in Tasmania's north-east.

“We've been planning and training for this trip for about four years,” he said. “Most of our training has been on Sydney Harbour, every Tuesday afternoon, but we know we're going to face some pretty heavy conditions across Bass Strait.”

David says he and his fellow kayakers won't have a support crew travelling with them, but will be in regular contact with authorities.

“There's quite a few islands along the way where we will set up camp each night – so we'll aim to paddle 40 to 60km a day. There's a few risks – like not reading the weather correctly, strong currents and being blown off-course etc – but we're pretty confident … and we've got the incentive of raising money for the Salvos and their fantastic work with troubled youth.”

The three self-employed mates say they are undertaking this fundraiser because they believe education is the key to eradicate the cycle of poverty and homelessness experienced by young people.

“There has been a sharp rise in youth homelessness in Australia which is why Oasis is needed now more than ever,” David says. “Oasis has a proven track record in helping young people realise their potential to grow and become valuable members of the community. There is no better way to get a homeless kid off the street than through education and holistic care.”

Oasis Youth Support Network has been supporting disadvantaged and marginalised young people in inner Sydney since 1992.

The network provides 24 hours' support to homeless young people through crisis and transitional accommodation, case management, education and training, living skills, vocational programs, counselling and outreach services.

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