Well, it’s been some time since I’ve posted anything. There’s a good reason for this and I’ll tell you the story.
Some eight weeks ago I was asked to move out of the house where I’d been living for nearly six years. The landlord’s sister was having trouble after a marriage breakup so she needed the house and I, being unrelated, got the heave ho. Fair enough. I’m a long term tenant with good references, having plenty of time to sort something out. Other than being upset about having to leave my beloved garden it was not all bad. Melton is a disaster area of poor planning and violence, so the move was a blessing in disguise.
Things did not go as planned, however. For some weeks I searched online for a new, friendly place to live, where the kids can get to school and I can live in peaceful well-being and get stuck into a serious veggie garden. Having room for chooks and a milking goat would be a real bonus.
It turns out there’s a few places around Victoria where one may rent a home that isn’t far from TAFE or a Uni campus of some description. The rents, however, have risen and risen in recent years and it’s pretty hard to find somewhere that leaves you any breathing space financially.
After a little while of searching and researching, I decided on North Victoria, from among a few towns around Shepparton. All was going well, there were still weeks remaining to make applications and get organised.
Then things began slowly to unravel. The Real Estate agent with whom we were making applications in Numurkah went on holiday without advising us or processing the application… So it was another week before someone came in to replace them and weeks or more after that before everything would be processed and resolved. I asked for an extension in the house where I was living, but the next tenant had no options, so neither did I.
The removalist offered me a month’s free storage for my stuff, then on one rainy and bleak Thursday morning I stuffed my stuff in the back of the truck and hit the road. All of a sudden, in only a couple of days, really, I was homeless.
I’d booked a few nights in a caravan park in Numurkah, which turned out to be an absolute godsend. Tell you what, though, I’ve seen some interesting things here that I hadn’t imagined I’d be becoming acquainted with. Suffice it to say that I’m not Robinson Crusoe. There are many, many people who somehow, by accident of circumstance like myself, simply fall through the cracks and vanish from “normal life” in the suburbs. Some after marriage/partnership breakups, some waiting on house sales or rentals. A good number of them are ex-Army or similar, simply trying to decide where the next chapter of their lives will take them. One couple had been traveling among the towns up here looking for some affordable place to live. Because they’ve been on the road for a little while and have no recent references, landlords aren’t keen to take them. They’re down now to living in a tent with their four month old infant.
In the midst of all this, the radio in the amenities block plays ABC rural and informs us of the “issues” surrounding tomorrow’s State election. I’ve been somewhat confused by all the name calling and finger pointing, particularly since governments of both stripe have contributed to a slow degradation of community services and utilities for a couple of decades now. Ballieu blames Brumby for high electricity prices and bad public transport, but he was a minister in the government that sold off all our public infrastructure and utilities to privateers in the first place. Bracks and Brumby simply carried on Kennett’s dreadful neglect but without the self-congratulation and posing. Neither have done anything remotely like adequately attending to public housing.
I’ve rung and emailed a number of media outlets, asking why such basic issues are not considered important in the election and the response has been a resounding silence. The media, business and political parties sustain a self-serving cycle that excludes participation by actual human beings and families who would like a say in how the place is run and whose interest is served.
My half hour at the Information bureau is now up, so I’ll depart now for my little caravan on Broken Creek. The hammock fits nicely between two trees on the creek bank and it’s gorgeous in the warm weather. For me, having now found my couple of acres on the edge of Kyabram, this has become a holiday. For so many others with whom I have shared these couple of weeks it is definitely not.
And in the meantime Brumby and Ballieu make noises about being tough on crime. Only after all the Liberal and Labor reps have been publicly flogged for their crimes should we consider being hard on teenagers and others who are simply trying to live with the fall-out of poor governance and self-serving, greedy media.