How our Public Housing system is creating Australia’s Public Housing Crisis.

Public housing was never meant to be seen as being a life style choice.

Yet unfortunately for far too many, that’s exactly what it’s become.

Many politicians and welfare groups consistently claim that Australian’s in need are experiencing a public housing crisis.

To further bolster this claim, every year at Christmas time there are ads on TV from welfare groups showing families living in cars complete with the said children of these car dwellers asking their parents the question “will Santa be able to find us this year”, as they sit in the middle of a car park.

At first these ads made me cry.

This is, of course, exactly what they’re designed to do.

Then I moved into a suburb that’s mostly filled with public housing or housing commission homes as we call them in Australia.

The neighbors to the right of me are a couple who have been living in their housing commission home for over 30 years.

No doubt they qualified for their 3 bedroom home when their now adult children were much younger.

However, for the last 15 years or so, it’s just been the two of them living there.

They have two brand new cars, one a 4 wheel drive, the other a shiny silver dual cab Ute.

As well as having these luxury vehicles, they also have a huge recreational fishing boat with all of the latest mod cons, which they take out and about with them almost every weekend.

Despite owning all of these things, plus one of the largest wall mounted plasma TV screens I’ve ever seen, their house looks desperately rundown and un-cared for.

It looks this way because they simply put no effort what so ever into making it look nice.

There’s no garden at all and their backyard consists of a consecutive line of shabby and incredibly ugly makeshift sheds.

They are loud and bossy people who insist on getting everything that they possibly can for free.

Even though they are both in full-time employment.

Opposite my house, there’s an 18-year-old girl living in a housing commission home that’s actually supposed to be her mothers’.

Her mother does not live there and has not done so for several years.

Undoubtedly the mother applied for and received her housing commission home many years ago, when her children were small.

Her children are also all adults now and she too works full-time.

Yet rather than being honest and telling the housing commission that she no longer needs the home and has indeed moved out, she’s simply passed it down to her daughter.

As if it were some kind of hard earned family heirloom.

The daughter would never legitimately qualify for a 3 bedroom housing commission home at all today.

Never the less, there she sits, living in a 3 bedroom tax payer funded home all on her own.

At the same time as all of this misuse and abuse of government housing is going on all around me I’m being bombarded with ads showing families who are in such desperate need of accommodation in Australia that they’re forced to live in their cars.

Is it just me or can anybody else see something terribly wrong with the new version of a desperate crisis in public housing that’s being portrayed, whilst such wanton abuse of the system is being so openly displayed?

Just to make it clear, here’s yet another example.

The older woman behind my home, is also living in a 3 bedroom tax payer funded housing commission home all on her own.

Last year, whilst I paid to have a new fence built between us because her dogs kept pulling the palings off the old fence, she contributed absolutely nothing toward the cost of the fence, then turned around and demanded that she be given half of the old palings for her wood heater.

The fact that I have a wood heater too and that I’m the one who paid for the new fence to be built because her dogs destroyed the previous one,  barely seemed to register with her.

She’d become so used to getting everything for free that she was no longer even able to recognize how abominable her own behavior towards those around her had become.

Yet this same woman also works full-time as a teacher’s aide and was, in fact, one of my son’s aides whilst he was in high school.

So she knows exactly what my son’s conditions are and that I am his full-time carer.

Which means I live on a minimal income.

Yet even knowing all of this she displayed a remarkable lack of compassion toward our situation and remained steadfastly interested only in latching on to whatever she believed she was “rightfully” entitled too for free.

I.E. half the palings off a fence she didn’t even own, had never paid a single cent for and had to be replaced, at no cost to her, due to her lack of regard towards it’s upkeep.

This inability to take responsibility for her own neglect of the property, along with her expectation that someone else will carry the burden of fixing it for her for free is a common theme.

The key understanding that seems to be missing among all of my neighbors is the fact that living in public housing doesn’t absolve them of all responsibility for the property for ever and a day.

Access to public housing is not a “right” that they earned once a long time ago and therefore never have to give up.

Nor is it a home that once loaned to them somehow automatically converts into being an “entitlement” that is owed to them.

Hence they never view themselves as being required to try and improve the value of the property as this is a task that they feel the  housing commission should do for them.

This is also often a point that most media commentators get entirely wrong when it comes to the housing crisis debate.

The media often portray young families as being the destroyers of a public homes value, rather than seeing them as the potential builders of it’s value.

Young families are the ones who are doing public houses up, to improve them so that they’ll be safer, cleaner places for their children to live in.

They’re not the ones leaving the houses to literally rot around them simply because they’ve become so ingrained with the  idea that they’re “entitled” to a hand out for anything and everything to do with public housing the way older housing tenants are.

It’s not young people and young families who are abusing the welfare system and treating public housing as if it’s something  they’re automatically “entitled” to.

It’s those people who are over forty, whose children have grown up and moved out and who are in full-time, paid employment that are abusing the system.

They are the people who need to be moved on and made to face up to the realities of trying to live life in the public rental market.

They are the ones who have full-time jobs and no children to look after.

They have cars, boats, furniture, and clothes.

It’s not like they’re being asked to start all over again from scratch.

They’ve had the benefit of being supported for years and years by tax payer funded housing.

Young people view public housing as  a short term welcome reprieve from their existing circumstances.

They do not view remaining in public housing as a life long, over all goal.

They recognize and appreciate the gift of  tax payer funded housing support.

So my question is why aren’t older, working housing commission tenants  being moved on to make room for young families in need?

Why are people who no longer have children to bring up and who are working full-time being enabled via our current public housing system to continue living in housing commission homes long after their years of need have passed?

Aren’t they now guilty of taking up the very homes that were meant to have been set aside for those who are currently the most in need in our society?

If so, why is it that those who run the housing commission aren’t doing something about moving these people on so that young families, the ones whom we are told are currently homeless and living in their cars, can experience the same safety net benefits that once helped people such as my neighbors all those years ago to get by?

By letting this practice of long-lived and unchecked occupation of housing commission houses continue unabated, the housing commission system itself has created the very breeding grounds for the abuse of tax payer funded homes.

It’s the systems inability to monitor its own machinations that has created the sense of “entitlement” that many of my older neighbors feel and which continues to allow them to believe that they have the “right” to live their lives in public housing if they so choose.

It has completely blinded them to the point that being able to access public housing is neither a right nor an entitlement.

It’s supposed to be a form of support for those who need it the  most.

Under this  once valid understanding of the purpose of public housing, none of my neighbors would qualify for public housing today.

A single, fit and healthy, 18 year old teenager with no children to support and a mother with her own home else where, has no right being placed in public housing before a family that’s living on the streets.

All it would take for the public housing system to right itself again would be for the housing commission to put in place a mandatory five-year re-evaluation period for every tenant to weed out the genuinely needy from the compulsively “entitled” greedy.

This seems like such a logical solution to me yet all we hear about on the news are the governments on going proposals to build more and more housing commission homes and apartment blocks to cater for the so-called growing need for public housing.

Yet there would be less of a “growing need” if they simply turfed out all of those who no longer genuinely require public housing.

So why aren’t they trying this approach instead?

Is it simply because any government of the day is so scared of losing votes that it dares not open up the flood gates of reason?

Whatever the rational for their inconsistency, one simple fact remains and that is that due to the governments continued desire to placate the “poor” they themselves have created a generation of older Aussies who feel entitled to take and take and take some more.

And all because no one ever said “no, you’ve had more than you’re fair share of support, it’s time to give someone else a go” to them.

Well I’ll say it.

All of you who are over forty and living in housing commission homes whilst working and earning a decent enough income to have new cars, boats, motorbikes, holidays abroad or whatever else your little heart’s desire, it’s time to get your snouts out of the public trough and give young families the same fair go you got when you were first starting out.

If you all did the right thing, there simply wouldn’t be a public housing crisis.

So come on older Australian’s.

Fair go.

You’re better than this.

Public housing was never meant to be seen as being a valid life style choice.

So wake up and stop being so darn selfish.

Australia Day – Invasion Day

I am truly grateful to live in this beautiful land.

At the same time, I am also honest enough to be able to acknowledge the history of dispossession that shadows our land and hence to seek to understand and honor the feelings of Australia’s traditional indigenous population regarding Australia Day.

In so doing, I offering up my humble apologies for the disrespectful way in which Australia was stolen from its traditional indigenous land owners all those years ago.

I believe that holding the capacity to acknowledge the wrongs of the past does not make anyone a “bad Aussie”.

If anything, I believe that holding the capacity to truly acknowledge our past, whilst also offering up a genuine willingness to pay respect to the true custodians of this land, would make us better Australians.

There is no shame in showing respect and understanding towards those for whom Australia Day is not now, nor has it ever been, viewed as a day of celebration, but rather a day that signals the loss of their country, ‘Invasion Day’.

We lose nothing by showing compassion and support for those who still feel the sting of dispossession.

We lose nothing by tempering our own views in such a way as to be able to incorporate within Australia Day, both our gratitude for being able to live in such a beautiful land our acknowledgement that our fortune came at the loss of our Indigenous population.

Were we personally responsible for the past?

No, of course not.

But we are personally responsible for both the present and the future.

I for one have spent years explaining to my children that for many people, Australia Day is double-edged sword.

It is a day filled with both joy and sorrow.

A day that attempts to celebrate the diversity of the Australian way of life, whilst seeking desperately to cover up the ugliness of a past that includes genocide and endless interventions aimed only at one race.

Hence racism.

I make sure that my children know the truth about the history of this nation because it’s a history that has created the framework for the circumstance in which our indigenous population all too often find themselves living in today.

Living lives in rural and remote outback towns, filled with poverty, poor health care, lack of educational and employment opportunities, high infant mortality death rates, lower than average life expectancy for both men and women and the by the far the highest per capita rate of incarceration.

I make sure that my children understand that this is a past that can never be truly left behind until all of the inequities that have accrued from that time forward, are both acknowledged and addressed by all Australians.

There is no point in trying to hide or excuse the actions of those who have gone before us.

There is even less point to it if, whilst in the process of doing so, we are enacting further harm, isolation, dispossession and outrage upon those who have already been harmed so much.

This Australia Day, let’s work toward recognizing the rights of our indigenous people via having the courage to honestly to acknowledge exactly how white Australian’s came to be here, and not just to ourselves, but also to our children and to our neighbors.

Let’s honor the truth and validity of those who consider the 26th of January to be ‘Invasion Day’ by showing them the respect they deserve instead of getting all fired up simply because we feel as if we’re being “shamed” over the actions of the past.

The only in which the actions of the past can ever continue to cause us shame will be if we continue to deny and vilify our fellow countrymen for feeling differently about Australia Day.

As I’ve said before, we are not responsible for the past but we are responsible for the present.

So I’d love to see every Aussie donning the colors of the Aboriginal flag somewhere on their body, in support and recognition of Indigenous Australian’s on Australia day.

To me, that would truly be proving Stan Grant’s words that “we’re better than that”, right.

#AustraliaDay #IndigenousRights #InvasionDay #StanGrant

“Predators – killers without a conscience”

-predator-killers-without-a-conscience

In this book, criminologist Dr Paul Wilson and author Amanda Howard attempt to examine whether or not social, economic and cultural factors contribute toward the making of predators rather than dwelling entirely on the psychological aspects which are often later claimed to have been the driving forces behind the actions of those who become sexual predators and serial killers.

In order to do this they review the case files of several notorious sexual predators and serial killers from across the globe.

In the process of doing so, Wilson and Howard detail each and every act of depravity committed upon the victims of the perpetrators they review , in a shockingly graphic way.

“The killer drove her to a secluded area where he sexually abused her, using a knife to inflict horrific injuries on the girl’s body, before disembowelling her while she was still alive.” (murder and rape of a 12-year-old girl quoted directly from “Predators – killers without a conscience”).

“He dragged the girl’s dying body…blood still dripping from the wound in her throat…then cut the crotch out of her swimmers and raped her dying body”.(murder and rape of a 15-year-old girl quoted directly from “Predators – killers without a conscience”)

As can be seen from the quotes immediately above and below, the vast majority of the contents of this book should be considered carefully as it is not suitable reading for those who are either sensitive toward descriptions of acts of violence or those who are younger than 18.

“She was hog-tied on the ground. I walked around to her left side and I cut her throat two or three times…but she just started thrashing around on the ground. She was trying to scream but nothing was coming out. I kicked her and put my foot on her to keep her still. It didn’t work so I stabbed her in the throat again. I aimed and stabbed at the hard thing (her windpipe) in her neck. I pushed the knife all the way in but she still wouldn’t keep still so I worked out where the heart would be and I stabbed her on the left side of the chest. She still didn’t stop moving so I stabbed her in the chest. I needed two hands to get through her chest. She kept moving so I kicked her in the head a couple of times. She still kept moving but she was slowing down. I waited.” (Confession of a man who raped and murdered a 16-year-old girl quoted directly from “Predators – killers without a conscience”).

The amount of time that Wilson and Howard spend on detailing the crimes committed, leaves very little space within each chapter for them to focus their attention on actually setting about the task of unpacking just what role, if any, each killers social and demographic circumstances actually played in the committing of their crimes.

To that end, out of the entire 246 page book, it is only in the final chapter, a whole 13 pages, that they at long last set about answering such questions.

Of that only 1 and a half pages are dedicated toward delving into considerations  such as to “How monsters are made” and whether or not predators should be seen as being “ mad or bad?.

In their search for common denominators, Wilson and Howard found only three sustained similarities across the board and none of them were specifically related to socio-economic status or cultural norms.

These denominators were:

  • The fact that all of the predators they reviewed had a long history of engaging in criminal behavior.
  • The fact that the majority of the killers they reviewed were later found to be psychopaths who were focused on fulfilling their “urgent, intense and ongoing desire to physically hurt and violate non-consenting victims,” as opposed to being criminally insane.

This was a point that was made time and time again via the amount of forethought, planning and organization, which the predators engaged in prior to the abduction, rape and torture of each of their victims.

  • Each predator was noted to have held no empathy, what so ever, for their victims. Often treating the act of killing as a necessary step in order to fulfill their desires and viewing the disposal of their bodies as inconvenience to them that had to be dealt with.

Yet the question of whether or not psychopaths are born rather than being created by socio economic circumstances or cultural norms, still remains an unanswered one.

Despite its gruesome content, there was one of the aspects of this book that I, as reader, found as equally disturbing as the descriptions of the acts of violence that were perpetrated against each victim, and that was the violation perpetrated by authors of this book against those who had already been victimized in the worst ways.

With the exception of one victim, whom they simply named “H”, they openly exposed the full names, ages, occupations and locations of not only each and every victim attacked, but also the full names and locations of their family members.

As a reader I can understand their bent for detail when discussing the crimes because each and every aspect of the level of depravity involved argues for the diagnosis of such perpetrator as highly organized psychopaths, but why include the full names of all of the victims?

Why could they not have nominated them, as they did with “H”, simply an initial?

Reading the names of the victims over and over again created within me such a deep sense of sorrow for the victims and wrongness for their families due to the fact that they will forever be marked in print and defined once again by the history of such horrific events.

It must be difficult enough to have a child of any age, taken from you, but to have that loss be so constantly written about, spoken about or relived in the media each every time an anniversary comes around or whenever someone decides to write a book about your family’s tragedy, must be absolutely horrendous.

It also made me ponder whether or not the family members knew all of the details of their loved ones treatment prior to death?

After all Wilson and Howard describe the events of crimes that occurred during the 50’s,60’, 70’s 80’s, all the way up until 2009.

How would any of these parents feel reading this?

How would the siblings feel reading this?

What if the siblings of the murdered had been deliberately spared the details of their brother of sister death, only to discover them in a book like this?

Fans of true crime are sure to enjoy this work, but for me, unfortunately, this book comes across as little more than being just that.

It is a book that presents the remnants of true crimes in a sensationalist manner poorly disguised as an academic work.

‘Glitch’ – Welcome to Yoorana. Population 7000 and rising.

glitch

The sleepy outback town of Yoorana is about to get a wake-up call like no other and it’s one they won’t easily forget.

As local police Sergeant Hayes, much to his horror and delight, is about to discover.

When, in the middle of a perfectly normal, warm outback night, he is called out to the old cemetery, only to discover that six of his departed townsfolk, have inexplicably returned from the dead.

At first , the shock of finding a group of naked, grubby, yet oh so clearly alive people , hiding in the cemetery in the dark of the night, makes Hayes think that this must be either some kind of weird prank or bizarre accident.

Yet as he begins to gather them up he makes an inexplicable discovery that changes his perspective of the whole night.

Among the six newly animated towns folk are Yoorana’s first ever mayor, a world war one solider, a murdered moody teenager, a bush-ranger from as far back as one hundred years ago and much to his disbelief, Sargent Hayes’ own recently deceased, former wife.

After the reanimated are gathered up and they are taken to the town’s only doctor, where questions begin to emerge as to why the risen are back,  and how on earth could such a thing even be possible?

During the course of this amazing six part series we discover the true identity of each arisen person as they all, one by one, begin remembering the circumstances of their deaths.

Whilst some of the newly arisen mistakenly attempt to engage in acts of either atonement or revenge, others who have nothing to either atone for or avenge, begin making discoveries of their own.

Leading us toward the understanding that not everyone or everything in this town is exactly as they seem.

Just how and why these particular six people were reanimated and why, in the remote township of Yoorana of all places, is still up for grabs by the end of the first season.

Glitch is quite unlike any other television series in this genre.

The opening scene of the six of re-emerging from their graves, caked in mud, wide-eyed with fear and confusion, yet oh so gloriously alive, is simply one of the best you’ll ever see.

Unique and refreshing this series puts a whole new spin on a genre that’s previously been described as American Gothic.

But this isn’t American.

This is Australian Gothic at its very best.

I can’t wait for season two of this one of a kind T.V show.

‘Earthlings’ – A documentary not for the faint hearted

earthlings

If slaughter houses had glass walls, wouldn’t we all be vegetarian.

But slaughter houses do not have glass walls.

They are not designed for us to be able to look in and see what’s going on..

They are designed to conceal from us the inhumane practices that are being inflicted on animals behind the scenes.

This is just one of the many messages that this incredibly powerful documentary, ‘Earthlings’ is trying to get across.

I will warn you now that it is not for  the faint heart-ed.

It is filled with graphic footage of animals being bled, jumped on,  hung upside down, stabbed, skinned, boiled and essentially slaughtered alive.

There is no doubt, that when confronted with the awful truth of the myriad of ways in which animals are used and abused for human benefit, including entertainment via such avenues as horse racing, outfits such as sea world and the well documented training practices of circuses, it becomes almost impossible to view any of these things in the same light ever again.

Even though at times, the images on the screen made me feel sick to my stomach and quite literally forced me to cover my eyes so that I may not see the cruelty occurring before me,  the truth is, I am a more informed person for having seen it.

This documentary highlights yet another simple truth.

That what we see on the packaging of meat, poultry and dairy products are little more than blatant lies and yet, we already know this.

And knowing this makes us complicit in the process.

So complicit that we no longer even wish to think about, let alone see the acts that our silent complicity have created.

Yet it’s our complicity that also serves to make this topic such a highly sensitive and complex one.

No one wants to talk about it.

And that’s good if your one of the few actually making bucket loads of money out of it.

But it’s incredibly bad if you’re the one whose going to end up living in an increasingly over polluted and unsanitary  environment due to the overcrowding and improper disposal of animal feces into our rivers, the overuse of antibiotics in animals making them less effective in humans and the waste created by toxins used to tan leather and other animal hides.

Not to mention the fact that it is especially bad if you’re animal.

Every choice you make when it comes to consumerism is exactly that.

A choice.

You can choose to buy products that are made from animals, but be aware that in doing so  you are also willingly  buying into an industry that makes its profits by either killing or treating animals with extreme cruelty.

And how do you know if the producers you are buying from are indeed committing acts of cruelty towards animals?

Well, the only way to know what’s going on within the industries that profit from animal products, is to watch what they are doing.

.So challenge yourself to step out of your own comfort zone of ignorance is bliss when it comes to the practices that are occurring within the industries, (and they are industries), that produce your food, your clothing, your entertainment and actually watch what they are doing, after you do then ask yourself;

Are these really the industries and the practices that you want to support.

This is exactly what Shaun Monson, the brains behind this entire documentary, wants you to do.

He also wants to make everyone aware that during the Bush administration, they passed a bill called ‘Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act’, which is now a law that makes it not only illegal for documentaries like these to be made, but also for protesters against animal cruelty to protest.

The law states that”

If protests, consumer boycotts, whistle blowing or even media campaigns, cause any animal enterprise a loss of profit, then the activists, protesters or even film makers, can be imprisoned..

The message here is pretty clear.

It’s illegal to protest or draw attention to the cruelty occurring within these industries because industry people pay the government top dollar to make it so.

It’s all about profit and the truth be damned.

People must not be able to see what’s going on behind the scenes in these multi-million dollar industries.

To make this point even clearer, Monson also states that due to the fact that most television networks/stations are sponsored by industries that in one or another profit off either the slaughter or the byproducts  of animals (milk, cheese, clothing), he could not find anyone to  air his documentary.

The only line of defense we have in the “war on domestic animal terrorism” is the truth.

Be brave enough to watch this documentary and others like it and tell me what you think.

Sad Amy…

What ever you may have thought about Amy Winehouse, well think again. This documentary shows how such a strong willed, passionate and unique talent can be so easily destroyed by those who so desperately betrayed her for their own ends.

Tararua District Library : Te Whare Pukapuka o Tararua

Amy dvd coverAmy : the girl behind the name is the 2015 acclaimed documentary film about the short and tragic career of the British singer Amy Winehouse. This superbly researched movie closely tracks her life, from the beautiful, outgoing teenager with the amazing “old” Jazz voice and creative mind, to the pitiful, broken-down hag she became in just a few years.

This film was created by the same team who created the amazing documentary Senna, and watching Amy is like watching a fatal car-crash in slow motion. It’s a brilliant piece of fly on the wall doco making, but I won’t ever repeat the experience of watching it.  Why? Because it’s just too tragic; sitting through Amy is too much like being one of those mouth-breathing voyeurs who gather at the aforementioned car crashes. What really got to me was this poor girl’s appalling choices in men…what arrogant, self-aggrandizing leeches they were…her father included.

And of…

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