Freo's View

HOMELESSNESS A NATIONAL DISGRACE

Posted in city of fremantle, community, homelessness, social services, st patricks, Uncategorized by freoview on August 6, 2018

 

It is National HOMELESSNESS WEEK, a week where we are strongly reminded about the unacceptable fact that tens of thousands of people are homeless every night in Australia and sleep rough on the streets, vulnerable to attacks.

Fremantle’s St Patrick’s is holding COUCH CONVERSATIONS this coming Friday August 10 from 9am till noon, where we can listen to those who experienced homelessness, and possible solutions on how we can end this disgraceful situation.

It is in High Street opposite the City Beach Surf Shop.

As a society, and as a Freo community we need to do so much better than what is there at the moment in support for those who just need a helping hand.

Roel Loopers

WE ALL GOT RED BLOOD AND BROWN SHIT

 

There is plenty of time for contemplation and soul searching during the cold and wet winter days and nights, so when it was suggested to me that I should try to speak at one of the new TEDx Fremantle events about Perception and Reality, I wondered what it was I would like to speak about.

My thoughts don’t comply with the TEDx Fremantle categories of; only good science, no political agenda and no religious proselytizing, so I decided to just write down my contemplations and publish it here on Freo’s View instead. Here it is:

When we talk about reality and perception we should start with the elephant in the room first, and that is that Australia is not the best country in the world. Simply because no country is! There are many great countries in the world. I lived in three of them.

Our soldiers are not braver than those from other countries, and there is nothing specifically Australian about people helping each other in a crisis. When there are floods in Bangladesh, earthquakes in Mongolia, or wars and disasters in other parts of the world, the communities rally to give a helping hand.

Australia has lived on the urban myth of being the fair go country, but how can we claim that when the British settlers mostly ignored Aboriginal culture and language and treated our indigenous people as primitive idiots. How can a fair country take children away from their parents to bring them up as Christians and does not allow them to speak their native languages, and how can a fair country allow many of these children to be abused and raped?

How can we believe to be the fair country when we ban genuine refugees from coming to Australia, but lock them up instead in camps of neighbouring countries, but want priority immigration for supposedly ‘endangered’ white South African farmers?

How can we claim that we live in the best country on earth, when tonight, like every night, 115,000 homeless Australians sleep rough in the cold and wet?

The perception of greatness has always confused the Australian identity and that’s why we are still looking for one. We are not the Akubra hat-wearing cowboys, who live in the red dirt outback, but 90% of our population lives on the coastal plains and in big cities.

You might be surprised now when I say that I really love living in Australia, and even more that I live in Fremantle. But we need to start cutting the crap and let go off the hubris, because to be able to move forward together as a community and nation we need to acknowledge the harsh reality that Australia is far from perfect and that there is a lot of room for improvement.

We at the grassroots need to insist that political debate is about issues and has substance, and is not about point-scoring and name-calling, and we need to let all politicians know that we will no longer put up with their infantile behaviour in our parliaments.

We need to stop believing in the urban myth of our own greatness and start by showing real compassion for the less well off in our society.

It is not acceptable that we spend millions of dollars on non-essential things when our pensioners are barely making ends meet, when our hospitals are over-crowded and have long waiting lists, as does social housing, and when so many suffer from serious mental health issues.

Australia joined the so-called war on terrorism, but why haven’t we begun a war on poverty, and a war on unemployment and homelessness?

We are not all equal when multinational companies don’t pay tax, but low-income earners, pensioners and people on social benefits constantly get scrutinised to the point that is causes anxiety and depression for many.

It is good to have dreams, but it is not good to live in dreamworld and ignore the pragmatic reality of Australian life. Racism is a daily experience for those who are not white, and verbal abuse is also a daily worry for Muslim women, who have become the easy targets for ignorant fools. Western Australia has the highest rate of domestic violence in the nation!

Australia is a beautiful country, and I strongly believe that most people are good, caring and tolerant, and even more so here in Fremantle, but there are also many intolerant haters, who do not positively contribute to our community.

The Australia I love was summed up pretty well one evening in the Fitzroy Crossing pub in the stunning Kimberly when a drunk and huge Aboriginal man looked down on me in the toilet and said “Isn’t it amazing brother that we both have red blood and brown shit.” Yes indeed. We have a lot more in common than what divides us!

My wish for Australia is to wake up to reality and stop claiming that this is the best country on the planet. There is a huge different between being proud of one’s nation or becoming dangerously-and unrealistically- nationalistic. We can only find Australia’s real identity when we stop the tokenism and engage in real reconciliation with our Aboriginal brothers and sisters. To do that we need to use the word RESPECT more often.

To show real respect we need to acknowledge Aboriginal people in our constitution, we need to build a substantial Aboriginal cultural centre in Fremantle, so that overseas visitors can engage and learn about our indigenous history and culture, and we need a memorial on Rottnest Island telling the awful story of the inhumane Quod Aboriginal prison, where nearly 400 boys and men from all over Western Australia died.

Only with real mutual respect, and only with real, deep and soul searching honesty can we make Australia the best country in the world. Dismissing and patronising others is only holding us back.

Roel Loopers

FREO DONATION BOXES LITTLE HELP FOR BEGGARS

Posted in beggars, charity, city of fremantle, homelessness, local government by freoview on October 6, 2016

homeless

No matter what positive spin the City of Fremantle puts up about the five charity donation boxes in Fremantle, to discourage street begging, they have been less than successful.

Five colourful boxes were installed in mid February this year but the total sum donated to the St Patrick’s Community Centre up to October 3 has only been $ 7,126.70. That included the City matching public donations dollar for dollar.

This ends up being only $ 3.96 per day, so not even two dollar per day from the public, who clearly continue to donate to individual beggars, although we see fewer of them after safety officers have been moving them on.

There are no easy solutions to combat homelessness and street begging, but it is clear that the donation boxes in Fremantle have done very little to improve the funds at St Patricks as four dollars a day does not even buy a meal for one single beggar.

Roel Loopers

HEART-BREAKING FREO HOMELESSNESS

Posted in community, fremantle, homelessness, western australia by freoview on September 12, 2016

homeless

 

I find it heart-breaking and deeply sad that a wealthy country like Australia has so many homeless people.

We have the development percentage for art, for heritage, and some councils even have a percentage for public open space, but there is not a percentage for homelessness that I know off.

Fremantle does have a 15 per cent requirement for affordable housing in new residential apartment development, but that is often reduced because developers claim it is not financially viable to build affordable housing.

Yesterday morning there were three homeless people at Princess May Park, three at the post office, one at the bead shop next to it, and I know several find shelter on the verandas and in backyards of the cottages at Arthur Head, while others sleep in the caves below the Roundhouse and under the boardwalk at Bathers Beach.

I find it cold at home with the heater on, so how bad must it be for these poor souls. Surely we can do better than this Australia!

Roel Loopers

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STARLIGHT HOTEL CHOIR FIGHTS POVERTY

Posted in fremantle, homelessness, western australia by freoview on August 24, 2016

oxjam

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FREMANTLE HOMELESSNESS NOT A LIFESTYLE CHOICE

Posted in aboriginal, city of fremantle, community, homelessness, st patricks, western australia by freoview on July 13, 2016

I am a big fan of the monthly Fremantle Network events at the National Hotel because we can hear first hand and face to face what is going on in Fremantle and the vision people have for our city. We can contribute by sharing ideas and asking questions, so that we can make informed decisions.

Last night TFN presented Victor Crevatin who is the director for homelessness and support services at St Patrick’s, which was established in Fremantle in 1972.

Victor told us that 200 people a day come to Freo’s St Pats and that they provided 16,300 meals in six months, some of them served by primary school volunteers. They also provided 1,800 free health services in the six months.

Crevatin said St Pats were branching out and diversifying their services, reaching out to women with The Sisters Place, free dental health care for homeless people, youth and mental health housing programs, women shelters, etc, but disappointingly they could not assist 300 people due to lack of resources.

The yearly Street Register counted 68 homeless people over two mornings, but there are many who don’t want to be caught and counted within the system. Nearly 60% of those counted were Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islanders and that is a big concern that needs to be addressed, Victor said. He also urged for a special health service for this group.

Most homeless people in Fremantle were 25 years and older and homeless for five years while those under 24 years had been homeless for six and a half years.

Victor Cretavin said that agencies needed to collaborate better but egos at management levels were often in the way and the fact that the agencies were all fighting for the same limited pot of gold of funding.

He said it was not good enough to just offer affordable housing but that support needed to be provided to the tenants to make it work. But he said affordable housing needed to be accepted by the community as there was a NIMBY attitude to providing accommodation because of perceived social issues.

“Homelessness is not going away and we need to do something together as a community!”

Cretavin said he was disappointed that the recent long Federal election campaign had not addressed homelessness and housing and he put new Fremantle MP Josh Wilson who was in the audience on the spot to say a few words about that. It was probably Josh’s first public talk since being elected.

Wilson said the challenge is one for all of us and that in real terms public housing was the same as twenty years ago. “We need a common ground model for agencies to work better together.”

The Labor party understands that homelessness is a huge issue with some 100,000 homeless people in Australia, Wilson said and that while in government Labor had a policy of halving homelessness by 2025.

Victor Cretavin then took over and told us that many homeless people were on the streets because of domestic violence, alcohol, mental health and drug issues, etc and that many are just scared. The system is so bogged down in risk assessment that it turns down people who end up living on the streets.

We need better education and plant the seeds of community awareness so the community understands the issues around homelessness better, and that should start in primary schools. “Homelessness is not a lifestyle choice!”

He said an 11-year-old boy had made 200 homelessness packs and there was scope for all kind of volunteers, even data collecting.

We are looking for small little wins, Victor said and suggested the City of Fremantle could make a carpark available for those who sleep in cars, to create a safer environment for them.

I believe if that was done portable toilets and showers would also need to be provided and of course on site security, but would the community near that designated carpark accept it and how to stop it from becoming another backpackers camping ground?

These are huge challenges but we need to address them as a community. Homelessness is not acceptable in our wealthy country and it is not a pretty sight. It’s a bit like looking in the mirror and seeing shit on your face.

I am convinced that especially here in Fremantle with all the caring and warm-hearted people we can and must do better!

Roel Loopers

 

 

 

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Posted in city of fremantle, homelessness, western australia by freoview on May 5, 2016

Homelessness in Fremantle

Homelessness is a subject close to my heart, as I see no reason why people should sleep on the streets in a wealthy state like Western Australia. It breaks my heart to see the poor bastards sleep in doorways where they are so vulnerable to abuse. They are all around us and their numbers are increasing but society treats these people like the scum of the earth. Now that the colder months are here their plight is getting worse and they are freezing at night!

On Monday May 16 from 6-7.30 pm there will be a talk about homeless people in Fremantle in the Fremantle Library, so come along and see if we have any new ideas to solve this ever-increasing problem.

Listen to Chantal Roberts the Executive Officer at SHELTER and Freo Mayor Brad Pettitt.

RSVP essential for this free event.

Roel Loopers

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FREO NEEDS VISION WITH PASSION

Posted in fremantle by freoview on July 25, 2013

 

The FREO Visioning 2029 community project makes me think even more about Fremantle’s future and where our community and the Australian society should be heading, because we should not be making decisions solely for Fremantle. It is probably impossible anyway because of the overruling state and federal laws.

Forget quick fixes or only seeing the target of 2029. What we need to do is organise the 15 year journey step by step so all things will fall into place and we’ll have a much better lifestyle and equality when we get to the other end. It is about growth and development, about doing first things first, and stop piecemeal planning and policies. We need to be focused on the outcome, while being very much in the moment during the process.

How are we going to improve the lives of homeless and indigenous people, what should the population target for 2029 be, how will we address the modern office needs for the on-line generations who need ‘nomadic’ communal office spaces, rather than substantial floor space, should councils supply alfresco wifi offices in parks and city squares. How will developers and property owners adjust to that, or will it need new laws and different forms of insurances.

Beggars, homeless people, alcohol and drug addicts on the streets are not necessarily a law&order problem but a social problem society will have to deal with before it gets worse and out of control. Should we leave it to agencies to clean up our mess, because when society fails it should take responsibility and start cleaning up its own mess, not leave it to charitable organizations. Homelessness is a failure of society, not individuals!

People are homeless and begging on the streets for a reason. People will try to find solace in drugs, alcohol, petrol and paint because they despair, are displaced, depressed or mentally ill. Should society simply judge them as drop-outs, no hopers and dole bludgers or should we rather take responsibility instead by showing compassion and care, but how to change that in a world that is becoming more and more selfish.

House prices and rents have shot through the roof and are out of reach of many in our society. How are we going to balance that imbalance, how can we make housing more affordable for those less fortunate and financially less successful. How do we create more equality in a society of extreme richness and extreme poverty. What is our responsibility to the rest of Western Australia, Australia, and the world, or should we just close the shutters and look after ourselves.

Our vision for the future should be less about high-density living, transport, and the creation of more individual wealth, but more about our communal responsibilities and a greater sense of care for those who are often ignored and overlooked and who we judge because they just get by on the edge of society.

A vision for our future needs to be one of compassion.

These are only some of the challenges for Visioning 2029 and our future.

Roel Loopers

There is another FREMANTLE VISIONING 2029 active workshop at the UNDA Drill Hall this evening from 5.30.

 

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