I invite you to visit also my literary blog: Journeys in Creative Writing where I post original fiction including short stories, poetry and 'Paternity', a full length mystery novel.

Sunday, 28 December 2008

Happy Beginning to 2009

Anyone can face homelessness ...

Whacko! Australia’s one year-old Rudd Government has said it will halve homelessness in Australia and offer supported accommodation to all rough sleepers who need it.

It has set targets to do this by 2020.

The government committed $400 million in the next two years for additional social housing for homeless people and $800 million in four years, being a ‘down payment on a twelve year reform agenda’.

With a national population of only 21.5 million people, that’s a good start for our new year.

As I’ve said before on 70 Plus there is great need, even in this comparative land of plenty:
  • 105,000 Australians experience homelessness each night
  • 188,000 Australians receive support each year through supported accommodation
  • 69,000 of those receiving support are children.
A few days before Christmas in a small town not far away, fifty homeless people were entertained at a barbecue. And yet we call ourselves the Lucky Country.

For a dozen years we had seen the gap between rich and poor growing hugely and the problem was largely ignored. This was so far away from our national character that normally called for a fair go for all.

This year for the fourth in a row, our support group for carers of persons suffering mental illness, working with a local Lions Club, distributed a large quantity of Christmas cakes to the most disadvantaged persons we could find.

We discovered people living rough on the local river banks and in parks, families in caravans and refuges. One refuge manager told us on Christmas Eve that she had just been notified to expect a woman with seven children who had become homeless.

The new Prime Minister Kevin Rudd made his heart warming announcement on Christmas Eve, releasing the policy that states:
‘Homelessness is not just the result of too few houses. Its causes are many and varied - domestic violence, a shortage of affordable housing, unemployment, mental illness, family breakdown and drug and alcohol abuse all contribute to the level of homelessness in Australia.’

The Prime Minister said that reducing homelessness was everyone’s responsibility; that Australia’s efforts to reduce it needed to be urgent and well sustained.

And so say all of us!

‘This White Paper addresses the causes of homelessness and provides a framework for preventing homelessness from occurring in the first place’.

The policy promises to support victims of domestic violence to stay safely in their own home; increase public and community housing for people at risk of homelessness; improves tenancy advice and support services; and introduces a policy of ‘no exits into homelessness’ from hospitals, mental health and drug and alcohol services and statutory care.

‘These measures will help prevent more Australians from becoming homeless each year.’

The policy continues:
‘When – despite our best efforts – people become homeless, this White Paper sets out ways to strengthen the provision of services for these Australians.

‘It will help services to provide people who become homeless with the full range of support that they need – rather than leaving individuals to try and navigate a complex system looking for help.

‘Assertive outreach services will work with homeless people bringing people off the streets into the housing they need to end their homelessness permanently.’

More longer-term housing, more public and community housing and the issue of run down and overcrowded housing for Aborigines living in remote areas are all targets of the scheme.

Such an all-round effort to tackle the problem has to be welcomed. Let’s hope that nothing gets in the way of this ambitious plan.

Meanwhile I wish my bloggy mates the very best of wishes for 2009. May you and yours experience happiness, a desire to live peacefully with each other, and tread lightly on the planet.

Here’s a gem from the mouth of babes:

The little boy next door anxiously asked his Mum on the morning of Christmas Eve how long it would be before Santa Claus arrived.

Mum said: ‘just one more sleep, that’s all’.

Mr. Three: Can I have the sleep now?

True story.

What true stories do you have about this Christmas?

By the way - I have just posted episode 11 of my mystery novel 'Paternity' on my literary blog Journeys in Creative Writing. Pip is stalking the ghost of a man who raped her mother ...
On the site, you can also link to episodes 1-10 of this ripping yarn.


  1. Yes, good news from Kevin, June. Let's hope it makes some difference because I fear 2009 will be worse for us on the economic front yet at times like these I think it pulls communities together moreso.

    Cute story about the wee boy next door. I dont have any Christmas themed stories but was going to post later about the strange things I overheard during our family celebrations - a few laughs.

    I hope you have a wonderful 2009. I love this time of year because I always feel hopeful of the year ahead and I love to do some planning at this time of year.

  2. Yes LILLY - we always say 'this is going to be the best year ever'. Here's hoping for this one. There's no point in being anything but optimistic ...
    Although not being silly about it.
    I think the problems confronting us will make huge differences in our lives and the way we look at community. I think the wise people among us will realise how important it is to pull together ...

    I'm looking forward to those family stories.

  3. June,

    Wish you a very Happy and Healthy new year. Very Happy to learn about the great new steps being taken by your PM, and announced at Christmastime. Looks like different countries have different priorities now. Ours are certainly currently related more to safety , and security of the country. But at the end of the day, happy citizens makes for a safer and secure country, I think....

    Be safe, be happy.


  4. SURANGA That is a wonderful wish ... safe AND happy.

    What happened in Mombai was horrific and I can understand your preoccupation with safety and security. You are so close to danger there.

    In our country we are further away (from danger)in some respects, although these things can happen from within.

    However, it seems that Australians very much want to get on with looking after each other in ways that are relevant now (such as with homelessness).

    A former Prime Minister here sent a fridge magnet to every citizen urging us to be 'alert but not alarmed' and for a while it served to simply get us alarmed, looking for danger under our beds (where there was none).

    At the time, Muslims, some of them completely innocent and most in reality harmless, were targeted as terrorists and gaoled. People began looking at each other with suspicion.

    This is simply not the traditional Australian way.

    Balance is so hard to come by.

    But without it, we overlook important issues involving the wellbeing of people that are urgent right now.

    To me a caring and equal society is a wise and just society.

    Of course, we must have people whose concern it is to watch out for danger.

    But if this becomes the overriding culture at a time when it may be unnecessary, perhaps it is true that only damage is done.
    In empathy - June in Oz

  5. I'm so glad to hear that Australia is making a real concerted effort to tackle homelessness. In a world that often seems very out of balance it is all too easy to ignore the very real problems going on at home.

    Loved the story about Mr. Three.

    Hope you continue having a wonderful holiday!

  6. Hi June, Yes 'YOU MISSUS' with yer sun shining in yer big gorgeous blue sky, Can we borrow Mr Rudd for fixing up 'our' country's problems, d'ya think he would maybe consider moving over to this country even for a while ??? No I thought not ! The news here is flippen depressing (like the weather hehe). Not a flippen polititian here has the slightest iota of an idea how to even 'attempt' to fix things... Oh Hell's bells! what can a nutty (still menopausal) over 60 year old crazy woman do to improve the British financial and political situation HUH ? Beggar all methinks - So! I'm just gonna have to dig in, keep blogging and hope some beggar sees sense before we all go down the swanny.

    OK, enough of the moaning - I hope you and yours have a 'Grreat New Year' when it comes...

    Oops, forgot yer Chrissy story, mind you I did tell mine in me blog about Lou's comment at the show .. It didn't half give 'me' a warm, cosy feeling too! There's 'nothing' quite like a 'wee one' to cheer me up - LOVE the very 'bones of him'- problem is - he knows it too!

    Cheers, Kate xxx.

  7. Hi June, I am so glad to hear that the problem of homelessness in your country is being addressed by the government. They are at least aware of it and going to try and do something for these people. I think this is a big problem in most places in these trying times.
    The story about the little boy is so cute! My grandson is finally feeling better and coming to see me today to get his Christmas presents. I wish you and your family a healthy and happy new year. Oh, I almost forgot. You asked me about grits. Grits are ground, usually white meal of dried and hulled corn kernels that is boiled and served as a breakfast food or side dish. If you were here, I would make you some really good grits. A lot of people don't like them. Southerners in the U.S. love them and serve them in most restaurants for breakfast.

  8. I wonder what this year will really hold with all the financial woes the world is facing. Possibly more homelessness rather than less. Its a sad situation that we need to work together as a world community to resolve.

  9. Love your blog. You say you are past 70...You are certainly a young looking past 70!
    I like the way you write

  10. Straightforward and true. Thanks for posting this article June. Thumbs up!

  11. Hi LADYFI
    Thanks for dropping by again. As a 'Brit in Sweden' you will have some interesting insights into ways that governments look after their own.

    Our former government let such matters as homelessness, education et al slide for eleven years. It's wonderful to see that now there is an effort to make changes - even in a difficult economic climate.

    I would say if all of a people feel strong and aren't ignored, the nation is more able to face difficulties.

  12. Get out KATE - Kevie Rudd is ours! We've waited too long for him. And we need to keep him close so that he keeps doing the right thing.

    I love when my cheeky Scottish mate calls by. Just don't get sunburned Kate.

    I tell you what - if enough 60 year-old crazy menopausal women wrote to the papers about shortcomings in the Scottish system the politicians would all duck for cover - and think again!

    Personally, I liked your story on Shambles Manor of the Good Deed Box where the children do little chores to earn chocolates. More Mums and Dads should know about that one Kate.
    Hugs for New Year

  13. G'day JUDY - I am so pleased that Thomas Wyatt is well enough to pick up his Christmas gifts. What mayhem your family had with sickness at Christmas!
    Yes, I reckon there'll be a lot of homelessness in the US for a while as well. I hope Obama is able to keep his promises to you all.
    Grits - I like corn and I like porridge so I'd probably like grits. If only I could drop in for breakfast ...
    Hugs for 2009 Judy ...

  14. Yes Brenda - even Kevin Rudd suggested homelessness would increase in the next year or two, so his target to reduce it will be a big ask. At least there will be less suffering than there would have been ...

    Yep! Working together is the only way forward.

    I loved the video from your new Christmas camera. It was great to see the gifts you received in your home in Paraguay!

  15. LINDA - I'm pleased you enjoyed your visit. Yes - I'm 72, ride a bicycle, jump on a small trampoline, walk and THINK!
    I found your poetry interesting ...

  16. Strange that Australia should have the problem of homelessness too. We thought it was confined to our part of the world only.

  17. ...and yes, I am blogrolling the other blog too, for later reading.
    would love to read all your works.

  18. Hi MAMPI
    Yes we have 1000,000 people experiencing homelessness on any one night. That is a shame in our wealthy nation.

    Happily we are again becoming aware of the needs of the more needy to a greater degree now and only awareness and determined action will avoid such problems as you have in India.

    Thanks for including both 70 Plus and Journeys in your blog list.

  19. Your PM sounds promising, and good for him to include help for the homeless. I feel hope for the first time in a long time and know Obama has a tremendous job ahead since Bush wrecked our economy and credibility. But then all the world knows that.

    Thought-provoking post and cute story about the neighbor.

    Happy New Year!!

  20. Hi Joy
    Promising is the word. It's so hard for a government to stick to what they came in to do. Let's hope this one is not forced onto a sidetrack ...
    Happy New Year to you too.

  21. You speak of "national character," but I'm not sure I'd want to share your verison of "national character," when you come to a person's site, tell them their views are twisted and that their mother is unbalanced and unloving. Well done, June. That's a really balanced and loving move...

  22. Hi Braja
    I was as serious with my comment as I thought you were with yours. Did I get you wrong?

  23. No, I think I got you wrong, but I honestly can't see any humor in your comment; it looked a thousand percent serious to me. Let's just call it a total e-tech miscommunication and drop it, shall we?

  24. G´day downunder,

    Nice to read your blog. I really have hard to see the needy. I had a post awhile ago bout our homeless in Europe.

    Well, am a Filipina living in Stockholm, Sweden for almost half of my life. I been comparing my life now & then that really touches my heart.

    Thanks I found your blog. I been cooking for the party tonight. While waiting for the next dish, I decided to blogsurf. A random find but the best for the end of 2008.

    Have a blissful & peaceful New Year, June... God Bless!

  25. Richie - a pleasure meeting you! You have a sweet blog and you're right - it is obvious that you have a BIG HEART.
    It is such a pity that all people cannot share your change in fortunes.

  26. Happy New Year June...I hope the coming year is full of all good things for you....

  27. BRAJA
    And I wish all good things for you. Hugs from a fellow Aussie mate.

  28. hullo june
    this is the first time i am visiting this place.nice to read your post. the name of your blog is so inspiring...i wish my mom, dad and my mom-in-law could feel this way. i like meeting people of your age. theres something very beautiful about it.
    avery happy and a healthy new year to you.

    I reckon younger people are missing out if they notice only the wrinkles in the elderly. There is nothing like life's experience and the stories we can tell.
    May 2009 be kind to you too, Ask your mom to read my blog? You never know - she may end up riding a bicycle too!

  30. There is something especially poignant about homelessness. Jesus may have slept outdoors, yet the human animal of contemporary times seems ill adapted to the elements. Is a refuge what we in the USA would call a shelter? The homeless generally may stay at a shelter from a certain hour of the evening until morning, but they may not live there. You have a good heart, June.

  31. Yes Tropigal - a refuge here is a shelter. Mind you a 'refuge' can also be a place where some people are allowed to stay longer - such as a women's refuge which may welcome destitute women with their children for longer stays.

    It must be so difficult to know that you must get out of your bed and not return for twelve or so hours, taking your belongings with you - that's if you can retrieve your bed then.

    Beds in shelters are hard to come by here - and that's one of the matters the new government has promised to concentrate on.

    It's not difficult to have a 'good heart' if one realises that tomorrow you could be in the same boat ... One never knows where homelessness could strike. Mental illnes, a catastrophic accident et al.


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