On New Year’s Day a little girl was born, opening her eyes to the world, but to what kind of a world? Compassionate or merciless? By this Thursday, only 28 days old this little baby will be homeless. It is bullshit a 28 day old baby should be homeless. Not just this little baby but also her six sisters and her brother. A whole family is about to be evicted and they have not put a single foot wrong. What sort of society are we? Their mum is a good mum, who circumstance has betrayed. Where is society’s compassion? Where are all these government departments and agencies, and government funded support groups, including the government funded church run agencies. For many, like this mum and her 8 children, you learn that they are not there – not when you need them.
But where are ‘we’ in all this? We can do the blame game and the self-responsibility mantras but what we should recognise is the obligation of our shared responsibilities. We need to look out for one another.
This young bub’s seven siblings are 20 months old, 3 years old, 4 years old, 6 years old, 8 years old, 9 years old, 11 years old.
The family has gone through hard times but mum has kept all of them together. There is a lot of love among these children. My partner and I have spent time with them all. We see the good care that the mum has given them despite bouts of homelessness. We have seen the love that bonds and the hope in their eyes despite their terrible downs, which for many of us is unimaginable.
Mid last year this family was homeless. The mother, pregnant, taking care of her seven children – this is love. They were, and still are, on the Department of Housing priority waiting list. So are 3,000 other applicants, most of them families. If only you knew how many large homeless families are on our streets. It should be a shock to most Australians to know that there are 20,000 children under 12 years of age who are homeless. This inexcusable tragedy occurs in the world’s 12th largest economy, 2nd wealthiest nation per capita and with the world’s highest median wages. Damn you Australia. Damn our Governments. It is a shame job. But in blame is not where we should rest.
There is no urgency among our parliamentarians, no urgency among the ‘privileged’, no urgency among far too many for all those who in turn we leave behind.
Over many years we have been able to assist families find interim accommodation, and in a number of cases permanent accommodation. But this is a straw in the bale of what is homelessness. Last year we matched several families with accommodation.
My partner and I found interim accommodation for one family – the pregnant mum and her seven children. They were put up in a rental nearby a school that has benefited the children. The mum met the rent week in week out and the property was kept well.
Just before Christmas, the mum said, “Thank you. You have turned our lives around.”
“The children are doing well at school. They are happy.”
She was happy, looking forward to the birth of her young baby, and comforted by the love her children exude. Nothing, not even the fact of living below the Henderson Poverty line could get in the way. They appreciated everything they had.
But then the landlord instructed for the house to be vacated. The Department of Housing still has the family on the priority housing waiting list but the wait still carries on. Through the property manager, the landlord gave them notice – 14 days – to vacate. What a scumbag. There was no lease. They had rebuilt a life, nine months old, but now they are being up ended again. And what of the Department of Housing who push the line that it takes about a year or so to secure a home on the priority waiting list? Well it has been more than a year.
The mum and Producer/Co-Editor of The Stringer, Jennifer Kaeshagen have been frantically looking around for alternative interim accommodation. They have also completed one private rental application after another – but so far they have been knocked back at every twist and turn.
I am stating here, for anyone who may wish to be cynical or a know it all, that this is a very good family, a solid family, a loving family. I am stating here that this is a responsible mum, a great mum, an honourable person. There have been no issues with disorderly behaviour or rent arrears if some of you are thinking this.
This article is a call to all of you; let us help this family. Sometimes we have to do the work of Governments ourselves. Sometimes we have to do the work of those institutions that we suppose so much of and far too often are let down by them. We may not be able to change the world but we can change the lives of those who we come across, who need our help, who may need us to be there for them. This matters because we know it matters to those whom we come across, such as to this little newborn bub, to her seven siblings, to this decent mother.
The mum said to us, “I have tried to be strong for my kids but I’m a failure.”
No you are not. You have the love of your children, this makes you everything. Society has failed you but you are not a failure. You are a great mother. You give so much love and stability to your children. Love is everything and in that love is founded true stability.
“My kids settled in at the school and rebuilt their life. We are about to lose everything. School restarts next week and we are about to be kicked out this week.”
The baby was ill at birth and needs at this time constant monitoring and medical attention. But the landlord flatly refuses to give them a break, cannot even give them two months respite so we can look around for other accommodation.
This young mum is one of the most honourable people I have ever met. She was a victim of sexual abuse and violence, on the streets from the age of 15. Life dealt her a tough hand but she has always been able to keep her family together. The last thing that should happen to this family is that they are torn apart. The first thing that should happen is someone somewhere should put up their hand and say I have a vacant property you can rent.
They can pay up to $500 per week. They are good for it. They have always paid their way. Money is not the issue here, decency is. I do not want the responses to this article to be distracted by whipping cracks at our often useless Governments and at the many heavily funded agencies that claim they do more than they do. I have already had an adequate crack at them. Nor should we be distracted as to why the landlord is turfing them out. They are being evicted based on nothing but senseless prejudice. However do not distract with blame but instead let us rather focus on the ways forward. We may not be able to change the world here but we can change the course of life for this mum and her 8 children. Please someone come forward with a home for these people. There are vacant homes out there. Western Australia should be ashamed if it allows this young family to go homeless.
If we can find them a home in Perth, preferably north of the river, so the children can continue on at the school they have settled into this will be best. But, the mum is prepared to move to anywhere in Australia in order to keep her family together. So please contact us if you can assist. Society has got to start scrubbing up, being there, for one another. We cannot put any of our interests or strivings ahead of those of our most vulnerable.
In reference to accommodation for this family contact urgently Jennifer Kaeshagen at firstname.lastname@example.org
For any other inquiries contact me at 0430657309