Jessica’s plight is an indictment of the affluent city of Perth, an indictment of the Western Australian government, an indictment of far too many. Jessica, is an amputee who gets around in a wheelchair but who is homeless and for the last six weeks has been sleeping in a city carpark.
“It is dangerous on the streets, especially in terms of sexual violence.”
“I have been sleeping in city carparks because I have nowhere else to go.”
Jessica was in an accident when she was 18 years old and after years of battling complications to her injured right leg it was amputated below the knee after an infection took its toll. For the last couple of years Jessica has sold the ‘Big Issue’ magazine in trying to make ends meet in addition to her disability pension.
It shocks me that Jessica is homeless and it disturbs me that the government agencies and the big not-for-profits have not assisted her and that instead she has been sleeping in city carparks.
The streets are a dangerous nightmare especially for homeless women.
“I do my best, I cry a lot. You never get used to it.”
Today, Jessica sought out the safe space of Matargarup (Heirisson Island) where many homeless are camping. Once again Heirisson Island is sheltering scores of homeless – there are currently some thirty tents. The island camp has been raided nine times in the last four months by the City of Perth shire and their police escort. The battle of attrition has seen many homeless spooked, leaving the island and going back to squalid alleyways, while some others Jennifer Kaeshagen and I have assisted to secure various accommodation, doing the work of funded government departments and agencies. If the camp had never been raided there would be hundreds of tents, a homeless tent city. Before one of the raids there were 61 tents pitched and on another occasion there were 40 tents pitched. Today there are about 30 tents pitched. The City of Perth is in possession of roughly 200 tents and of the essentials that the homeless used. Matargarup’s Bella Bropho welcomed Jessica and organised for a tent, bed, linen and blankets. Tonight is the first sleep on a mattress in a good while for Jessica.
“My heart broke for Jessica when she came here but we are relieved for her for now because she is safe here. It just breaks my heart that she was in a dangerous predicament. I hope Jessie gets all the help she deserves,” said Bella Bropho.
Personally, I hope that the City of Perth at long last realises its responsibilities to our homeless and that they will not steal the tent and bedding that will keep Jessica warm and safe tonight. If they do it will be a moral abomination as it has been every time tents taken from the homeless by the City of Perth have stranded families, toddlers, babies, the elderly without any shelter, without the safe space that they have come to know.
It is for these families, for these babies, toddlers, for the elderly and for the Jessicas that I have been campaigning at pace for the establishment of homeless friendly precincts. It is our civil and moral responsibilities that we make these precincts happen.
I thank Bella Bropho for taking in Jessica. I pray that the City of Perth shire will not raid Matargarup homeless camp again and displace back into the worst vulnerabilities the homeless. Jennifer Kaeshagen and I will do our best to assist and secure assistance for Jessica. I beseech the City of Perth and the police to not dispose any more harm on the homeless of Matargarup. I believe we can find ways forward and I am waiting the Lord Mayor, Lisa Scaffidi to schedule a meeting with us, which will more than likely occur soon. I believe in compassion and that we can all be driven by it and I believe Lisa and I can discuss reasonably minded people-first solutions.
Jennifer Kaeshagen will do what she can once again to secure a home, this time for Jessica. If anyone can help us house or assist Jessica email firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone Jennifer on 0449 655 282.