Making a difference: 4,000 homeless people provided with a life saving Backpack Bed

Most homeless people are thankful if they find a bit of cardboard and a blanket. Now there is an alternative.

While sitting in church one day, I just thought to myself “How would I like to be treated if I found myself on the street? I’m 6’5” (196 cm) and I’d like to have a bit of comfort, stay dry and warm.

So while working a full time job as CEO and founder of my own IT company – I decided to establish a charity called Swags for Homeless. Since 2007 we have distributed over 15,000 Backpack Beds to people without shelter throughout Australia. The charity now reaches 7 countries.

Design and construction

My wife Lisa helped to design the patented Backpack Bed. We went to great effort to make sure the bed was both top quality and exceeded international standards.

Unlike traditional canvas used in swags today, we needed something more robust and safe. The lightweight fabric we created especially for the Backpack Bed is Litetrex®. This breakthrough fabric technology makes the Backpack Bed water and mildew resistant, flame-retardant and warm.

This portable bed easily converts into a backpack and makes the homeless look like anyone else on the streets during the day. The Backpack Bed comes with a built-in mattress, a three windowed tent, mosquito netting and a special pocket with padlock to lock away medications and valuables.

The Backpack Bed has won seven international product design awards including Germany’s Red Dot ‘Best of the Best’ and is on display in four international museums – Sydney, Paris, Italy and Germany.

More than just a bed

According to those who have used them – they offer more than just physical comfort.

Matt, a young homeless man who received a Backpack Bed, offers his perspective. 

“I guess that until people are faced with living on the streets they have no idea of what is involved … this is the third time I have been on the streets and previously I didn’t even have a blanket. I thank God for people like Swag for Homeless. You make a big difference in the lives of people like me.” 

Working with corporate partners and the community 

It’s community minded corporates like iiNet that help us to help those that everyone sees sleeping on the street. It’s a team effort to keep homeless alive and protected from the severe outdoor elements – corporates, volunteers, the public and governments all working together. However without support, nothing is accomplished.

iiNet has been able to provide 12 months of outstanding telecommunications to Swags for Homeless. With the provision of land and VOIP lines, mobile phone plans and broadband – Swags for Homeless have been able to save $3000.

iiNet staff have also raised an incredible $1700 through personal donations making an active proactive contribution saving street sleeping homeless across Australia.

With a self sustaining charity vision, Backpack Beds are also sold to the public as a social enterprise with profits going back to help more homeless projects.

We hope to help more homeless people in the years to come and thank organisations like iiNet for their ongoing support.

For more information visit the Swags for Homeless website or Facebook page.

Photo credit: Image provided by Swags for Homeless.


  1. Samuel MacLachlan says:

    What a great initiative! Well done to Swags for Homeless, and to iiNet for their support.

  2. Frank says:

    I have often thought that the old Fremantle prison would make an excellent refuge for those without a roof over their heads

  3. mary cheah says:

    God Bless you for this invention. I have been trying to think of a similar product for these people,particularly in the cold and wet conditions. so I do appreciate what you have achieved. Congratulations, Well Done.

  4. Wow! A great idea – never heard of this organisation. We have an organisation called Hands & Feet that also works specifically with the homeless. We will certainly be in touch with ‘Swags for Homeless’. Thank you, iinet for introducing them to us!

  5. Gwyneth Jones says:

    Brilliant! I can only hope this will be taken up by governments and organistions as well as individuals around the globe. Also great to know Iinet is on board.

  6. Kay Gibson says:

    Bravo Swags for Homeless and iiNet. I will support you both! Another good reason for signing up with iiNet 🙂

  7. charlotte Jacobs says:

    I think it is sad we have a homeless community it is nice to know that we have people who care about the unfortunate people who do not have a choice and are forced to live on the streets. GOD BLESS YOU ALL.