Australia The land of the Young, White, Able Bodied, Heterosexual, Male, Fair Go…..

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The question of “Australian Identity” reared its head again this week (as it so often has a remarkable tendency to do whenever this nation gets within spitting distance of an election).

At first, due to my overwhelming cynicism of all such notions hoisted  up on behalf of nationalism, I summarily dismissed the question.

However upon reflection, I think this time around, it might just be a question well worth asking.

Though not in terms of assessing what the average Aussie now looks like but rather in terms of assessing Australia’s mythologizing of the ‘Fair Go Spirit’.

So can Australia, through the lens of identity, really be seen as the land of the iconic “Fair Go”?

I have a rather unsettling suspicion the answer to this question might just be no.

If you look at the Australian response to illegal refugee’s (AKA ‘Boat People’) the answer would most definitely have to be a resounding no to the idea of a ‘Fair Go’.

There has been a rather concerning lack of ‘fairness’ shown toward those who arrive on our shores without the benefit of that all-important small piece of paper known as a valid passport.

So being Australian today, if you believe the political spin, now includes holding a rather alarming propensity for locking asylum seekers away.

Another Australian propensity related to this revolves around the broader issue of racism.

Apparently Australians today are a racist bunch and indeed if you were only to look at Australia’s policy driven responses to Indigenous Affairs, you would undoubtedly see clear evidence of this.

Australia’s history of  ‘Intervention’ in Indigenous Affairs is a rather sad and sorry one. Consisting of one human rights violations (such as the “Stolen Generation”) on top of another..

So far, the notion of the Australian ‘Fair Go’, in terms of identity, only applies to those who are born white and non-Indigenous in this country.

The Australian identity (well at least our political one) is also  homophobic too.

If you look at the political stance that Australia’s leaders have taken over  Gar Marriage, you could also add the denial of the right to marry the one you love, to the list of  human rights violations occurring in this country.

In terms of identity, the ‘Fair Go’ spirit does not seem to apply to those born elsewhere or born of a different race (ethnicity), nor to those born with a different sexual orientation.

But wait…. There’s more……

If you are an Australian with a disability or the parent of an Australian with a disability, guess what?  Apparently you are excluded from the notion of a ‘Fair Go’ too.

The recent political ‘push through’ of the National Disability Insurance Scheme in Australia (NDIS) is not what many within the disability community had hoped it would be.

Nor can the NDIS even be seen to be, at this point time, as providing a solid promise toward making the lives of those with disabilities ‘fairer’.

So far all it has done is make those agencies who provide disability support workers, richer and quite frankly, that’s about it.

The quality of care has not increased even thought the amount of money being thrown at organizations who provide said care, has.

As the parent of a young adult with a disability I can tell you that there is absolutely nothing even remotely  ‘Fair Go-ish’ about the way this country both treats and regards those with disabilities.

So far the concept of a ‘Fair Go’ only applies to those who identify as white, born in this country but not of Indigenous or any other ethnic descent  and who are entirely heterosexual and also not at all disabled.

And then there’s the unemployed whom have been quite vocal of late in airing their grievances over the fact that unemployment benefits haven’t risen for the last 20 years despite the constant leaps and bounds in inflation.

Of course I should also add the elderly and those who work as unpaid familial carer’s, to the ever growing list of those whose identities, are no longer experiencing the much mythologized Aussie Fair Go.

Ok, I will. So here we go…..

Identities that don’t qualify for the Australian ‘Fair Go’ experience are those who are Indigenous or of any other ethnicity, not born in Australia, homosexual, disabled, elderly or work in the care giving industry and those who are unemployed.

Qualifiers for the Aussie ‘Fair Go’ experience are those who are white, born in Australia with not too much ethnicity, heterosexual, able bodied, young, workers.

I really should also add the growing, (not shrinking), lack of equal pay being experienced by Australian women  in terms of wages and job security in this country.

One more time….

Those who qualify for the Aussie ‘Fair Go’ are……..

-White,

-Non-Indigenous

-Australian Born

-Young,

-Heterosexual,

Able Bodied,

-Male

-Workers.

Sounds like a capitalists dream workforce really……. Oh wait

Those who do not qualify for the Aussie ‘Fair Go’ experience are those who are……..

-Indigenous

-Any other ethnicity

-Not born here,

-Aged,

-Gay,

-Female,

Disabled,

-Familial Carers

Unemployed

Makes me wonder just how much of the Australian population there is left for politicians to marginalize?

So what do all of the potential leaders of the Liberal Party worried about?

Well, clearly they fear that an elderly, disabled, gay, unemployed, refugee seeking female, on a boat may be coming their way.

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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.