Darwin has the highest rate of Homelessness of any city in Australia. At any time due to high rates of Domestic violence, massive income inequality, high unemployment and under-employment, and massive amounts of health issues both mental and physical up to 3,000 people are living rough in Darwin on any given evening.
In a city that is renowned for having a female shortage, women with children are statistically more probable to be on the street. It is disturbing that a woman must choose between living in her car, living rough or violence every night of the week in my home town.
The homelessness problem is an issue that I hold close to my heart. Having spent 16 years in the Real estate industry I have at many times been on the frontline in dealing with many religious and non-religious non-government organizations as well as NT government departments desperately seeking housing for employee’s for sectors with high turn-over such as nursing and police etc.
Real estate agents can’t discriminate, not just due to legislation but also as being a commission based industry it is in the best interest of the agency to have filled tenancies at all times. But owner’s can and will for both financial and social reasons. This type of investor discrimination whilst from the outset looks immoral, in a world controlled by finance, equity and cash, is entirely justifiable. As due to constraints placed on investors by the financial and insurance sectors, higher deposits, fee's and premiums are placed on any activity dealing with the vulnerable and less advantaged. Higher costs restrict the investor and can not only reduce returns but disadvantage any future investments.
The Banking, finance and insurance sectors have no moral compass and can be placed in serious legal jeopardy in this country if they make a compassionate decision against their fiduciary responsibility to their share-holders. (a topic for another time)
So what can be done to ease the perceived housing shortage. Firstly there needs to be an acknowledgement of the fantastic facilities and services currently available in Darwin below both Private and Non-government organizational -
Alcohol and Drug rehabilitation center
Catherine Booth House
Darwin Aboriginal and Islander Woman’s Shelter (DAIWS)
Discharged Patient accommodation (Tiwi)
Yilli Rreung Housing Aboriginal Corporation
Frogs Hollow Backpackers
Melaleuca on Mitchell street backpackers hostel
Then there needs to be acknowledgement that these services are over-stretched, under resourced and in desperate need of help.
The reality is that if we saw the homelessness people as victims of a cyclone, or natural weather event, we would have accommodation for all of them in less than 48 hours. I witnessed this after the last cyclone almost wiped out a bush community. So there is currently a lack of political and social will to fix the problem, not a lack of expertise, locations or resources.
Having walked and talked with those in Darwin’s homeless community, they don’t need more money thrown at them. They need service and services. The same services that are currently in our community, but with longer hours and more flexibility.
The largest cause of short term temporary homelessness is domestic violence. The NT Government and the local aboriginal and Torres strait islanders are providing many productive programs and advertisement but the problem is inter-generational and requires more short term facilities, more family support and greater education both in the schools, libraries and through Mentor programs.
Another large proportion requires mental health support outside of being placed in the corrections system or being treated as a criminal.
Homelessness is a CRIME. The victim is not the criminal, it is a CRIME that society is currently offending against its own people.
I don’t have all the answers for this problem and I definitely don’t think that council can solve any of it by itself. But as I stated and have seen both in volunteering during the Katherine Floods in the past and also as recent as cyclones that have hit outside communities, if we want to fix the problem. We Can.
Remember if you want to help me help you, please share your voice and vote for Sam4Richardson this coming 26th August 2017.
Written and Authorized by Sam Wilks. The views included may not be those of others mentioned in the article but are those of Sam Wilks. If you have other idea’s feel free to comment below. Idea’s and differing opinion is recognition of a free and just democratic society. A Society I am happy to live in. Please however try not to be abusive or discriminative, you may be. But if I feel that your opinion may be harmful or is reported as being harmful, I will delete it.