Then, the former firefighter was sleeping rough. A family breakdown and worsening mental health condition had catapulted him from his community and his only possessions were was some loose change in his pocket and the clothes on his back.
“People assume all homeless people are drug users. Or that we’ve all got our hands out for help. They’re wrong,” he says.
This week, for the first time, a group of Victorian police officers spent the morning walking with Russell through the streets of Fitzroy and Carlton to find out first-hand what life is like for someone who is homeless. It was followed by a session where police could ask any question of people who had experienced homelessness.