When I first started taking in homeless kids in Ashfield, many of them came from Central Railway station in the city. Central Railway station is the hub where all the railway lines of NSW collide. Country and suburban. To go anywhere, one needs to catch a train from Central. Likewise Central is the main arrival point. Naturally, Central Railway station was a hub for homeless kids. All runaway kids knew how to jump a train and that’s precisely what they used to do.
One would naturally think that Central Railway station would be flooded with Youth Workers, Social Workers, Counselors and all the flotsam and jetsam that goes with societies intention to help and work with the homeless.
That’s a given….. right?
Well, no. It isn’t. Would you believe that all of the regions that the welfare department were divided up into met at a point on Central Railway Station? That meant that it was located simultaneously in ALL regions. Which in turn meant that no one region accepted responsibility for it and so nothing was done there.
Of course you know what that meant? The place was alive with homeless kids and all sorts of mayhem erupted there. At one stage we were offered 15 different homeless kids a night from there by the Railway Police and another 15 by The Graffiti Squad!
It seemed like no one in government really cared!
That was Sydney 25 years ago. But have things really changed?
I’d like to really think so but common sense tells me that the human condition never really changes.
Darwin would today, I reckon, be the homeless capital of Australia. Maybe one could argue that many of the Aboriginal people moving into and out of Darwin aren’t technically homeless, they’re visitors and as visitors need somewhere to sleep.
There’s the rub! They’re not allowed to sleep in the parks. If they do they get their goods confiscated and then there’s the problem of renewing cards, ID and everything.
So, one would expect Darwin to have one of the most experienced and effective services for homeless people in the country, eh?
Well, no. It doesn’t. In fact, it doesn’t or rather, won’t have any service for homeless people at all after July this year.
Just like Darwin has no Children’s Court for all the Aboriginal Children who find themselves getting into trouble, there will be no help for their parents and the cycle will just continue.
The Salvation Army has typically closed their homeless programs down there as the government money has dried up.
Think of all the money that goes into Aboriginal welfare and just weep! I love going to and working in Darwin. In fact I struggle to stay there as many of my programs, like their clients, live a hand to mouth existence. I’d like to think there were winners up there, but I’m seriously beginning to doubt it.
Sad, isn’t it?