"I hate seeing anyone suffering, anywhere, and if singing a little bit outta tune can raise money for support systems I'm there," laughs Rogers. "I'm also more than happy to cater the event or continue my itinerant dishwashing turns at the St Kilda Mission. I'm the luckiest miscreant on the planet, to be able to make music for most of the year and also to have a friend like Brian Nankervis, who can ask me to play at this show, or mow his lawn, and I'm there with skates on. And possibly overdressed."
Barnard is equally passionate. "We're very lucky, living in Australia," she reflects. "… but then you see the side of homelessness and mental illness and realise that not everyone benefits from living in the lucky country! I went to the Mission and saw what goes on and how it operates and that gave me the impetus to make it one of my priorities. Out of all of the causes I want to support – it's on the top of my list. It's a really unique hub – they've got medical facilities, hairdressing, food – all of the things that you and I have easy access to. It's pretty damn amazing!"
Barnard has been involved with the concert since its inception.
"Yeah, Brian Nankervis first presented the opportunity to me. He calls on people left and right. This sounds corny, but it really is one big fraternity, the music scene in Melbourne. He planted the seed seven years ago, although it feels like only three!"
That's enough time to gather some memories for sure. "Yeah, I can tell you about one low-light," laughs Barnard. ""I fell over on stage while I was doing a Fleetwood Mac number. I lost my footing and somehow fell backwards on the ground. The worst bit was that people thought I was drunk and I wasn't! That was traumatic! I got back in the saddle though."
"Another big highlight was last year's sing-a-long with the Caravan Club choir. I call it a flash mob. Billy [Miller] and I started singing Close To You and then pockets of people in the audience got up and started singing. It was a massive surprise for the audience. Then they worked their way up on to the stage. There were about 80 of us up there for a sing-a-long. It was very emotional for me – especially thinking about who we were singing for."
Barnard's got something in the pipeline to top that. "It's a secret," she smiles. "All I can say is that it involves a very well regarded performer and it will be fun."
That Barnard's preparing for all of this amidst recording her first new album in 4 years is testament to how important it is to her. Barnard's always been community minded though and has had the opportunity to reflect on what inspires her to get involved. "Well, my parents loved me," she explains. "I know what it's like to be loved – it's probably one of the most important things in life. It would be wonderful if everyone had that feeling."
Connection and support are the logical corollaries of what Barnard's talking about. Generally speaking, most people will experience three, what're defined as "traumatic events" in their lives – say the loss of a parent or spouse or addiction. When it comes to people experiencing homelessness though, that stat bounces up to 21. That's 21 traumatic events in one lifetime. If you can get your head around that, then try to imagine getting through them without support. According to the stats, 94% of the people who come to the Mission are single and many have no or limited contact with family and friends.
… and that's why we need the Mission and the meals program – for connection and support.