I’m rather passionate about human rights and sustainable community as well as having had an unpleasant experience with homelessness myself recently. Since the issue has come up in the press lately, here’s a couple of links and some thoughts.
There are thousands of people in Australia who are homeless. Many have had experiences of domestic violence and many are mentally ill and suffering substance abuse as a desperate attempt to self-medicate. Our culture, on the whole, is totally and utterly unsympathetic to this plight. “If you don’t work, you can get fucked.” Is the slogan the MSM and self-serving politicians have beaten into the collective psyche of convict culture. Truth is we’ve never adequately dealt with the history and foundation of extreme violence on which white Australia was founded. It’s also a really effective way of keeping the wage slaves on the treadmill and the mill owners happy, but I digress.
In recent days there’s been an unusual amount of discussion (read: ‘any’) regarding homelessness. Have a read of a couple of the articles; note the comments too. Education and life skills the key to combating homelessness. Smarter quest to help the homeless. Former farmer still can’t believe he’s homeless.
I’m also trying to find links to media about the Yarra Ranges Council’s recent attempt to ban people from sleeping in their cars without a permit. Apparently they attempted to pass the bylaw but my Tweet stream informs me that they backed down after Hanover and others stepped in, advising that for many a car is the last hope between them and having to “sleep rough”.
My thoughts on this today were kicked off with a morning call from the Department of Housing. They want some more paperwork from me and the guy rang to say they got my letter and have given me another two weeks. I have a house at present and it’s wonderful here. However, there’s been other tenants in here and the landlord isn’t afraid to kick people out if he doesn’t like what they’re doing with the place. I still have a $3000 debt from the last little episode so I can’t afford to not proceed with the claim for public housing.
Such an application necessitates absolute reams of paperwork and jumping through hoops, being assessed and evaluated by nameless officials and “review panels”, because we can’t have people getting houses if Rupert Murdoch thinks they don’t deserve them.
Since I believe that life is about life and not about money, there follows a few links to NGO’s that support housing, community values and basic human rights. It’s a little weird that I’m writing this in one of the world’s richest countries, as if it were a two-thirds world slum, but such is the society we’ve created. Orwell would be proud.
It’s absolutely shocking to see your security unravelling around you, through no fault of your own and with you having absolutely no control over it. One week you’re a secure, well reputed tenant. The next, there’s been a miscommunication or the Real Estate agent stuffed up your paperwork, so you’re hoping for a spot in a caravan park and desperate for a way to pay for it. That’s if you have a car. Australian welfare is cut off for anyone without a fixed address, so even staying in caravan parks can be very thin ice.
Food and shelter is the very first on Maslow’s pyramid of human needs. It’s the most basic necessity. For some reason we take people who are forced into insecurity on this most basic level, who often also have to deal with mental health issues and are traumatised by experiences of violence, and expect them to be able to fill in papers, produce documents, make legal arguments for their suitability for programs and simply keep their heads above water. Then if they don’t meet all the requirements, they’re derided as lazy, no-hopers or otherwise ignored and despised. If it’s like this in rich countries, imagine what it’s like in situations of civil war or famine! Whomever named the human species Homo sapiens was kidding themselves. Whomever considered human society “civilised” was equally deluded.
It’s really depressing writing all of this. I do hope you’ll forgive me for being so maudlin, but I feel it necessary to add a sincere voice to the chatter about humanitarian issues. This is honestly what it feels like, living on the receiving end of the policies and parties that Australians vote for and for which businesses lobby. Every time the economy “sheds a job” to keep the stock prices high on the share market, another family is that much closer to being in my shoes. To be brutally honest, if I were facing homelessness again, without the prospect of a loan and support from family members, I think I would just crawl into a bottle rather than approach the services and organisations because they’re out of options and it’s simply too painful to go begging to someone and be turned away with nothing but humiliation and a handful of paperwork.
That said, I’ll be mulching and composting in the garden tonight and posting about permaculture and sustainability tomorrow, so don’t tune out! Seeya round.
Homelessness Australia is the national peak body advocating for people in Australia.
Street Smart Helping people who are homeless by supporting local grassroots projects. DINE OUT…HELP OUT at participating restaurants & cafes 8th Nov – 24th Dec.
The National Homelessness Information Clearinghouse a website for info and good practice for the Aus homelessness sector.
Castan centre. Protecting and promoting human rights is our mission. Based at Australia’s Monash University, we are the Asia-Pacific’s leading academic human rights centre.
SANE Australia The national mental health charity.
STREAT Social enterprise dedicated to helping homeless and disadvantaged youth. Combines training, social and pyschological support with work in foodservice biz.
People with Disability Australia Incorporated (PWD) is a national disability rights and advocacy organisation http://www.pwd.org.au
Melbourne Street 2 Home MS2H provides housing and support to the most vulnerable people sleeping rough in inner-Melbourne to end their experience of homelessness.
WIRE, a non-for profit, gives over 10,000 women options for moving forward every year. No matter what your problem is, WIRE is always a great starting point.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare: Australia’s national agency for health and welfare statistics and information.
Led by Les Twentyman OAM the 20th Man Fund is dedicated to making a difference in the lives of the homeless and disadvantaged.
The PILCH Homeless Persons’ Legal Clinic is a specialist legal service that provides free legal assistance and human rights advocacy to people who are homeless.