My heart is broken today.
A petition by Mission Australia which has caught my eye and reignited the burning at my core again.
Homelessness – the underestimated reality for many families of which is growing every day.
Why, in a country like Australia, where we are meant to be the lucky country, with all our social security benefits and medical aid, are there SO many people without a home or enough to survive living at all?
Why do we have to fight SO hard for the basics in this country – food, water and shelter?
It’s criminal in my book!!
There is absolutely no good reason for ANYONE in Australia to go hungry or have to live on the streets.
In the comments of the petition which Mission Australia posted on FaceBook, many people commented. Some people made reference to us complaining when we have it easy – that we are the lucky country and should be grateful for what we get because some countries don’t have that at all!
Believe me, if being grateful was the only thing stopping people from being homeless or living in poverty, then there would be no one homeless or living in poverty at all.
But there is.
When I read the comment about comparing Australia to other countries and telling us to stop complaining, it hit a nerve.
Let me tell you why that line of thought is dangerous.
Each country’s costs vary as do their wages. When comparing Australia with them, it is relative to these points…….
Income versus expenses.
To be homeless or in poverty in our country is to be unable to afford to live here despite wages or a full-time job. Despite being lucky enough to have Government benefits to supplement our income (or whatever other reason for their assistance) it’s still not enough.
That, by itself, says mountains about Australia!!
Yes, other countries do indeed have it tougher in many aspects – no access to clean water, uncontaminated food, safe shelter, education, employment and medical assistance.
But life is tough enough without the basics being covered no matter what country you are living in.
If we go down the path of comparing ourselves to what other countries do and how their population lives or survives, we should only do it for the purpose of perspective in how lucky we are to have the extra financial aid, not to belittle a person’s situation. Certainly, if the affected person was living in another country with the same income they have here (even if it is only Government money they receive), then I believe they wouldn’t be homeless because what we earn (even in benefits) is definitely good money meaning they would be well-off in that country (in comparison).
However, the person isn’t living in another country. They live in Australia. They don’t know anything worse than they are living now. This is the hardest thing they have ever had to endure in their life. They don’t know what it is like to live in a shack or to actually be starving. But they do know what it is like being unemployed, to not have enough to have a roof over their head or food to eat, and what it’s like to sleep outdoors in winter.
It means their pain is real regardless of any comparisons to other places. Perspective doesn’t change their circumstance. If it did, less people would be homeless. Perspective gives you a different angle to look at your own issues which in turn can have the effect of calming you so you can think straight and possibly find another way you could get the help you need.
In 2015, I had a full-time job with Government Family Payment benefits when I was faced with no other option other than to send the kids to live with their dads full-time and resort to borrowing a caravan to live in. At the time, everyone I knew had a house full of people and little to no room for me to stay at their place. Fortunately, I was blessed enough to have a sister with a caravan and parents who had room for me to park it in their backyard. Otherwise, it would have been down to sleeping in my car, maybe in the driveway of my parent’s place, but that wasn’t a guarantee.
It was an extremely difficult time for me. Accepting the fact I was homeless was like playing tug-of-war in my mind. On one hand, I was living in a caravan at my parent’s – not on the streets – so homeless didn’t feel right. But on the other hand, I was living in a caravan at my parent’s place because there was no room for me anywhere including there, so homeless was the correct description of my circumstances.
Going to charities for assistance felt like I was robbing the poor, someone in more need than me…..but I was one of the poor in need. It was just not the way I thought of myself.
So, why is telling people to stop complaining because of how lucky they are to be living in Australia so dangerous?
Well, as I outlined with my own situation not too long ago, those experiencing extreme hardship, homelessness, borderline poverty and entrenched poverty, already have a hard time dealing with how they got there, why they are there, feelings of guilt, shame and embarrassment, isolation and loneliness, mental health issues, and accepting the truth of their circumstances. Hearing they don’t have a right to complain simply because of our Government’s Welfare System only compounds their train of thoughts around seeking help and accepting where they are at this moment. It may just be the straw to break the camel’s back surrounding suicidal thoughts.
We complain and tell our stories because NO-ONE should have to go without anything at all! No Australian, given our luckiness, wealth and financial aid, should have to beg for food, water and shelter, but they do. We can’t do much for the overseas countries (other than that of our Government’s current “generosity” in sending aid to them), but we can definitely act in our fellow Aussie’s best interests and fight for what’s right and moral.
Please consider signing Mission Australia’s petition:
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