Years ago Susan Carew attempted to start Homeless Lives Matter. It was a walking meditation in relation to understanding inequality, poverty, no advocacy and what it truly means to Advance Australia Fair as a real proposition of a ‘fair go’ and ‘harmony’. The hard work on this topic as lived experience awakening questions about true equality, real understanding and freedom. It was not about fighting for equality or fairness. It was to BE fair and express the truth of a situation to raise awareness as many stereotypes negatively block solutions. That is the real block chain.

As a former analyst, without a home since 2017, this experience became an recognition of structural violence in policies and inaction that enabled discrimination, underfunding and disempowerment. We could end homelessness overnight with the willingness to do so. Covid-19 had every homeless person off the street, today they are sleeping rough again. The issue was not lack of resources, it is lack of willingness, basic care, which is why there is a call for a Caring economics to replace domination economics which exploits humanity and nature as life has become monetarised and devalued. The Covid-19 pandemic recited ‘death’ as a mantra which had the affect of devaluing life and focusing attention on fear not solutions. There are biases towards those who are viewed as ‘poor’, ‘unemployed’, ‘homeless’ as somehow making their bed which they should lie in rather than understanding what causes people to become vulnerable. Many struggle to pay rent, buy food, pay bills and fall between the cracks. There are psychological barriers which fuel crisis in a culture that thinks you should ‘get a job’ when the reality is very different. The restructuring of an economy to a technocracy away from traditional areas of employment and an influx of half a million migrants is going to make work harder to find. Moreover, the Covid scenario caused more disease and ongoing injury. We are witnessing the middle class disappearing as the real wealth of the nation is sold off and used to pay court cases, tax cuts, large contractors, expensive submarine projects, funding wars, and introducing policy that impacts industries on the ground. The conditions for poverty are clearly evident as petrol prices rise, food prices rise, wages do not increase and foreign investors increase their assets.

The discussion of the Fool reveals that those in homeless situations are very strong people. They survive. They overcome. They grow. Susan produced a trial radio program Homeless Lives Matter on 3RRR and interviewed the homeless. She heard many stories, some had lost a child, others were waiting for operations, some couldn’t find affordable rentals, some had been abused or were in personal crisis. These were people from all walks of life. The largest proportion of homeless are women over 50 years of age.

The real home-less-ness is the break up of the family (home), no family (single), social isolation (status) and unaffordability of the basics (poverty). There needs to be a public inquiry into the ‘how’ of empowerment, ‘what’ is the truth of matters and ‘how’ to find a ‘voice’ with no advocacy to participate in creating the change that is needed to advance Australia fair. A Homeless proposal was produced in 2018 and recommended to a Housing Minister at a Homeless Conference. Unfortunately the corporate belief is to turn public welfare into private ‘social impact investments’ to make these non-profit sectors profitable and turned into private assets. The privatisation of government ensures the foreign investors invest in public services with digitisation and the smart cities technologies. Anyone homeless will not want scrutiny 24/7, smart lighting, surveillance, no choice and micromanagement of their lives via AI and automation as it dehumanises them and lowers self esteem.

Public housing is publicly owned and this means people have a say under the Australia Constitution. Innovation could have structured in renters paying off their home. My mother rented for 30 plus years, improved the property value. The poor end up in vulnerable situations of rising rents given CPI increases and an inability to buy food. It becomes a poverty trap. This catalyses hopelessness. The best way out of this is to build ecovillages, to ensure sustainability, self determination and new skills on how to survive and build community. People don’t want to be dependent on a system, the desire empowerment. Below are links to solutions, expession, senate reports, making homelessness visible and a sample of radio interviews.

Solution: Build An Ecovillage: https://ha.worldpeacefull.com/homeless-lives/solution-build-a-ecovillage/

My Story My Voice:  https://ha.worldpeacefull.com/homeless-lives/my-story-my-voice/

Senate Submission: https://ha.worldpeacefull.com/homeless-lives/senate-submission/

Homeless Walk to Parliamenthttps://ha.worldpeacefull.com/homeless-lives/homeless-walk-to-parliament/

Triple R FM:  Homeless Lives Matter Program: https://ha.worldpeacefull.com/homeless-lives/triple-r-fm/

Latest program 6/1/2020:  https://ha.worldpeacefull.com/homeless-lives/triple-r-fm/program-3-homeless-voices-part-2-6-jan-2020/

Poetry In-Sight:  https://ha.worldpeacefull.com/homeless-lives/poetry-in-sight/

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Motto
:         “Home is Where the Heart Is”

Values:        I CARE   –  Courage, Awareness, Respect and Equality


Purpose
:    To deeply listen to the stories of homeless persons in order to raise awareness, respect, equality  as all homeless lives matter.

______________________________________________________________________________

Homeless Lives Matter (Australia) is about making homeless lives visible and to deeply listen to hear their voices.  When people are seen and heard this opens awareness,  respect, equality and empathy for those living through the experience of homelessness.  Homeless Lives matter will collect stories to learn more about those who are homeless and tell the emotional story of what life is like homeless and inspire those in this position to have their voices included in the solutions.  In the words of Stephen Covey (7 Habits of Highly Effective People). 

We must Seek first to understand, then to be understood!

Susan Carew, the founder of Homeless Lives Matter Australia has been homeless for 7 years due to an eviction and cancellation of welfare due to conscientious objection to Work for the Dole (making christmas cards as upskilling?) and offer of ‘Disability’ pension when not disabled.  Through her own hardship she has experienced a real disconnect where the problems of unemployment and homeless have not been resolved as leaders do not understand the nature of the real problem. 

Homeless Lives Matter is seeking to raise awareness about the reality of homelessness, the structural issues, beliefs that have been normalised and to remind Australians that any person can become homeless and that all people should be assisted and supported in a crisis, in a timely manner.  This is the sign of a civilised society and many Australian’s would agree.  

Homelessness is a crisis and a national emergency.  

Homelessness Australia is a peak body who provide information and statistics, for more information refer https://www.homelessnessaustralia.org.au/about/homelessness-statistics:

The ABS Census is conducted every five years, with the most recent release being for 2016.  It is estimated that:

  • 116,427 people were counted in the Census as being homeless on Census night (up from 102,439 in 2011)

The rate of homelessness (which takes into account population density) is 50 out of every 10,000 people —up five per cent from the 48 persons in 2011, and up on the 45 persons in 2006

20% (or 23,437) are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians (down from 26% in 2011) 30% are born overseas.

State breakdown

  • NSW 37,715 (50.4 people per 10,000) +37% since 2011
  • VIC 24,817 (41.9 people per 10,000) +11% since 2011
  • QLD 21,671 (46.1 people per 10,000) +14% since 2011
  • SA 6,224 (37.1 people per 10,000) +7% since 2011
  • WA 9,005 (36.4 people per 10,000) -2% since 2011
  • TAS 1,622 (31.8 people per 10,000) +6% since 2011
  • NT 13,717 (599.4 people per 10,000) +11% since 2011
  • ACT 1,596 (40.2 people per 10,000) -8% since 2011

 Where are people staying?

  • Improvised dwellings, tents or sleeping out 7% (8,200)
  • Supported accommodation for the homeless 18% (21,235)
  • Staying temporarily with other households 15% (17,725)
  • Boarding houses 15% (17,503)
  • Other temporary lodging 1% (678)
  • “Severely” overcrowded dwellings 44% (51,088)

 How old are they?

  • Under 12 14% (15,872) +11% since 2011
  • 12-18 10% (10,913) 
  • 19-24 15% (15,325)
  • 25-34 18% (19,312)
  • 35-44 14% (14,484)
  • 45-54 12% (12,507)
  • 55-64 8% (8,649)
  • 65-74 4% (4,174)
  • 75 and over 2% (2,028)

Homeless Lives Matter understands the importance of gathering data but wishes to highlight the importance of balance in respect of ensuring people do not feel reduced to a statistic or just another number, passed from pillar to post or not responded to.  Effective and sensitive communications which emotionally and intelligently acknowledge how a homeless person feels is critical to survival.  Moreover, those engaged in this area or citizens seeking to help must become aware of the emotional discord, humiliation and embarrassment in asking for help has to be addressed with training coupled empathy building as a priority.  The sense of disconnection and social isolation grows with the dehumanisation that occurs as digital transformation, data gathering, surveillance and detachment becomes the features of a technocratic society.

In the view of Homeless Lives Matter homelessness is an economic externality whereby the market is unable to provide full employment and distribution of profits (trickle down) to ensure equity and parity. Equality or fairness is essential for social stability and ensures peaceful coexistence of citizens.  Unfortunately the normalised stigma of homelessness is the reason why there is non responsiveness from civil society to this problem. This condemns it to continuing.  The stigma acts as a barrier to empowerment and assistance as fear holds people back from involvement and proactive problem solving. 

In the mental health area new narratives are emerging in respect of involvement in the prevention of suicide as everybody’s responsibility.  In Australia, R U OK? Day is an initiative to train people to have the courage to ask a person if they are OK.  The publicity and promotion of R U OK rehumanises mental health issues and sensitises people to participating in the wellbeing of others and directs them to take action. This builds community.  Therefore, the problem requires not a market response as a solution but primarily a human response as a socio emotional solution.  We are all sensitive and we can be hurt, marginalised, disappointment and feeling isolated.  Money can’t solve that problem only caring, kindness and well coordinated services directing people to the right people who will ensure they are empowered and cared for to get back on their feet. 

Refer R U OK?  https://www.ruok.org.au/  

The emotional disconnect is apparent, this is the core problem.  Our society appears paralysed to respond to homelessness as a real crisis and is not asking the right questions about how to solve the problem from the perspective our who we are as a society and how to empower the homeless to develop skills to re-frame how they see themselves and how to heal the hurt and develop confidence to envisage a different future for themselves and their families.

The market design of contracted service delivery turns welfare recipients into consumers, the homeless crisis into service provider markets of public-private partnerships (PPPs), Memorandum of Understanding (MOUs) of selected corporations away from government or a competitive market. Welfare becomes conditional, information gathering intrusive, approvals conditional on ‘agreeing to terms and conditions’ and arduous for those unable to cope with the system, having personal problems, or falling between the cracks of a increasingly complex market system.  This is where homeless people get lost in the system and why some are deciding to completely opt out in favour of sleeping under bridges.  Some feel so alienated that they reject society all together, as they feel no hope of reengagement.  The most devastating experience is the feeling that no-one cares, as one watches talking heads unable to connect, unaware of real empathy or concern for another.  This is where the social fabric unravels. 

We are moving into times where this type of indifferent attitude is revealed behind official narratives and the lack of real solutions to the homeless problem.  This is evidenced by the investment in health, insurance, infrastructure, defence, SMART IT products and services and property markets booming with government funding (welfare) whilst those in the highest need increasingly are marginalised or silently moved out of the system.  Society witnesses this prioritisation which further communicates the propaganda that the homeless are worthless.  It is a real problem particularly with our national anthem which is to Advance Australia Fair. 

The homeless live starkly different lives to the mainstream community.  They cannot afford quality food, they cannot afford basic accommodation, they may not be able to sit at a coffee shop to feel part of a community, they cannot afford to travel on public transport as their incomes are so low.  Entertainments like theatres, movies, sports events, music entertainment are out of their reach.  They cannot afford health care and overtime become worn down by the exclusion and sense of worthlessness endlessly reflected in how they are treated.  This is why they will appear on the streets depressed and distant, they feel let down by their society.  They lost respect for those walking past as they realise they don’t care.  Some may take drugs to sooth the emotional pain they are unable to reconcile as they do not know conflict resolution, conflict transformation, peace strategies or basic counselling skills to deal with emotional confusion and how to exit poverty. 

They confront judgement moment to moment and this is the invisible barrier that silently excludes them from entering society as people feel fearful of their presence without understanding the history they have endured that has landed them there.  Some may sit down and talk with them but the majority plug in and walk past.  In other situations homeless people may live in their cars, they may camp or house sit if they are socially acceptable.  They absolutely cannot tell people of their dilemma as there is instant judgement and it is harsh and unforgiving.  The norm of social independence, getting a job as part of the economic norm is expected and people are often blamed if they do not get work. This is called ‘victim blaming’ in conflict resolution rather than an understanding of structural violence (economics). There is little common knowledge of the competition for jobs, changing skill sets, migrant workers and the fall of real wages for most jobs not directly related to the emerging technocracy.  The breakdown of unionism, poor conditions, part time work and casualisation as emerging agile work is put in place.  This latter workplace is in the ‘cloud’ where workers must apply for jobs and chips ensure they are paid for work done. The latter is discussed in this Technocracy where professional jobs are replaced by 3D goggles as training devices. So that a person unqualified can follow instructions.  Moreover, robots and artificial intelligence are being primed to replace human labour which may send homelessness skyrocketing in the future.  Many who have never believed they may be out of a job find themselves deselected.

Therefore, the homeless will face different challenges, obstacles, barriers and are forced to move constantly so they do not burden anyone or become harassed.  They all live in survival mode, which as an instinct means ensuring basic needs are met and no sense of permanency.  They will be viewed as transients, vagabonds, rough sleepers as they return to the old swagman moving constantly in search of work as a basic survival. 

Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs is a hierarchical pyramid which delineates different levels of social aspiration starting at basic physiological needs (food, shelter) and moves up to safety needs, love and belonging, esteem and then self actualisation.  Those who are homeless are at the two bottom rungs of society.

maslows hierarchy of needs

Homeless Lives Matter will focus on the love/belonging/esteem and self actualisation levels in order to step them up to opening to their potential and self worth.  

The planning of HLM is inspired by the author Stephen Covey in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People a process that outlines how to move along the path to empowerment.  

Independence

The first three habits surround moving from dependence to independence (i.e., self-mastery):

1 – Be proactive

Take responsibility for your reaction to your experiences, take the initiative to respond positively and improve the situation. Recognize your Circle of Influence and Circle of Concern. Focus your responses and initiates on the center of your influence and constantly work to expand it. Don’t sit and wait in a reactive mode, waiting for problems to happen (Circle of Concern) before taking action.[4]

2 – Begin with the end in mind

Envision what you want in the future so you can work and plan towards it. Understand how people make decisions in their life. To be effective you need to act based on principles and constantly review your mission statement. Are you – right now – who you want to be? What do I have to say about myself? How do you want to be remembered? If habit 1 advises changing your life to act and be proactive, habit 2 advises that you are the programmer! Grow and stay humble.

All things are created twice. Before we act, we should act in our minds first. Before we create something, we measure twice. This is what the principle is about. Do not just act; think first: Is this how I want it to go, and are these the correct consequences?[5]

3 – Put first things first

Interdependence

The next three habits talk about Interdependence (e.g., working with others):

4 – Think win-win

Genuine feelings for mutually beneficial solutions or agreements in your relationships. Value and respect people by understanding a “win” for all is ultimately a better long-term resolution than if only one person in the situation had gotten their way. Think Win-Win isn’t about being nice, nor is it a quick-fix technique. It is a character-based code for human interaction and collaboration.[9]

5 – Seek first to understand, then to be understood

Use empathetic listening to genuinely understand a person, which compels them to reciprocate the listening and take an open mind to be influenced by you. This creates an atmosphere of caring, and positive problem-solving. Habit 5 is greatly embraced in the Greek philosophy represented by 3 words: 1) Ethos — your personal credibility. It’s the trust that you inspire, your Emotional Bank Account. 2) Pathos is the empathetic side — it’s the alignment with the emotional trust of another person’s communication. 3) Logos is the logic — the reasoning part of the presentation. The order is important: ethos, pathos, logos — your character, and your relationships, and then the logic of your presentation.[10]

6 – Synergize!

Combine the strengths of people through positive teamwork, so as to achieve goals that no one could have done alone.[11]

Continual improvement

The final habit is that of continuous improvement in both the personal and interpersonal spheres of influence.

7 – Sharpen the Saw; Growth

See also: Kaizen (continuous improvement) Balance and renew your resources, energy, and health to create a sustainable, long-term, effective lifestyle. It primarily emphasizes exercise for physical renewal, good prayer (meditation, yoga, etc.) and good reading for mental renewal. It also mentions service to society for spiritual renewal.

Covey explains the “Upward Spiral” model in the sharpening the saw section. Through our conscience, along with meaningful and consistent progress, the spiral will result in growth, change, and constant improvement. In essence, one is always attempting to integrate and master the principles outlined in The 7 Habits at progressively higher levels at each iteration. Subsequent development on any habit will render a different experience and you will learn the principles with a deeper understanding. The Upward Spiral model consists of three parts: learn, commit, do. According to Covey, one must be increasingly educating the conscience in order to grow and develop on the upward spiral. The idea of renewal by education will propel one along the path of personal freedom, security, wisdom, and power.[12][13]

Increasingly as narratives and ideological beliefs turn to victim blame homeless people, the vilification is used as a reason to cut or stop funding and excise responsibility for those who are not ‘economic units’ but citizens in a society. The business narrative as it infiltrates government narratives loses sight of the original intention of government for the people by the people. This appears to be the disconnect.

Refer https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/aug/07/the-big-stigma-is-its-the-homeless-persons-fault

The issues of homelessness are complex and at the same time mirrors back to society the moral and ethical landscape that is largely invisible but traditionally socialised by families and ideologies. The more complex and underlying question is – What and who do we value in our society?  To become aware of how we include or exclude on the basis of perceived value typically attached to work, status, income, wealth and property.  Those who do not reflect ‘success’ in material ways are deemed ‘failures’ and of lower value.

There are other assumptions which allow people to ignore homelessness.  They assume in a wealthy material society they can get on welfare.  What is not understood as that welfare payments are not enough to cover rising rents.  This is occurring because of foreign and domestic property market speculation creating boom and bust conditions.  In property booms the price of real estate rises.  Moreover, infrastructure projects with private equity investment under Private/Public Partnership Agreements increases foreign investors building new residential properties. Increased liquidity, investment and credit availability attracts buyers from the upper socio-economic bracket or professional classes abroad.  However, this is subject to market variability if large infrastructure project beneficiaries are funded and then the predicted demand does not appear. This can create a scenario of empty new buildings (vacancies) which are unaffordable to those who need accommodation.

Refer https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-06-11/sydney-apartment-market-hit-by-ghost-tower-phenomenon/11193132
Refer https://hackernoon.com/token-economics-to-help-the-homeless-65ba94907781

The stigma of poverty undermines and lowers expectations of a better future. Moreover, the embarrassment of where a person lives is amplified when the dwelling is aging or dilapidated properties reinforcing the ‘worthlessness’ of occupants.  Tower blocks, wind tunnels, squalid conditions, surveillance, poorly designed residential mixes and police indifference reinforce the stigma that those in poverty are worth-less and uncivilised. 

Jane Elliott the Texan educator who produced the Blue Eyed Brown Eyed experiment proved that what we think about we bring about. This division of a class provided evidence of the power of suggestion which embeds discriminatory attitudes. It works off the basis of inferior and superior. Therefore, if we put people down, withdraw privileges, stereotype, cite biological reasons for poor treatment, lower expectations, project negative assumptions about intellect and personal capability on the basis of a characteristic we artificially create the conditions that will be used to validate that assumption. If we practice the reverse and start to value people, empower them, help them to envisage a new future then we are in a position to lift people out of the poverty mentality, which is where the real trap is.  

Refer Frontline documentary:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1mcCLm_LwpE

The growing inequality resultant from structural barriers trap people in what is popularly called The Poverty Trap. Inequality is about the prejudice around material wealth emotionally connecting to self worth. The more you have the more you are, the less you have the less you are.  These signals are unmistakable and render many potentially gifted lives stuck in mediocrity, social isolation and survival.

Apart from those on the street, homelessness is largely invisible.  It is estimated in Australia that there are approximately 116,000 people known to be homeless, the figures are likely to be higher given invisibility. Socially, many feel shamed and embarrassed as they recognise they are seen as less and this very disempowerment becomes a glass ceiling they cannot break through.  Once a person become labelled they are viewed through a distorted lens (less than equal). This prejudice adds to the overwhelming situation a person finds themselves in.  Powerlessness is a key issue. 

In the future the word ‘homelessness’ will be replaced by a new narrative that inspires, challenges and empowers a renewable life.

Homeless people have the same dreams, varied skills, diverse backgrounds, inherent wisdom, extraordinary resilience and strength to be able to live outside of what is perceived as the ‘normal’ life.  This requires great strength, courage and random acts of kindness. 

The voices of homeless people is not only about collecting research but develop socio-emotional understanding to empower change to solve the problem not hate the person (conflict resolution).  There is a significant chasm between those with lived experience and the social services/homelessness sector, government agencies/Ministers, business leaders and the wider society.   Ultimately you cannot know homelessness until you become homeless. 

Below are videos Susan Carew compiled from a lived experience perspective to provide insights into the homeless issue from the perspective of homeless people.  She is making her life visible and transparent in order share given significant social and political misunderstanding.  

Video links

Homeless Persons Do Not Vote – A Message to Politicians and the Public

Homeless Lives Matter Electing to Walk to Parliament House

Project:  Homeless Lives Matter: Vote to Walk With The Homeless, Canberra

https://ha.worldpeacefull.com/homeless/project-homeless-lives-matter-vote-to-walk-with-the-homeless-canberra/

Courtney Herron Homelessness and Violence Part 1

OTHER LINKS

A few links to inform and start a conversation:

Testimonials of Homelessness:  https://homelesslivesmatterbook.com/

Homelessness in Australia:  https://www.homelessnessaustralia.org.au/fact-sheets

Australia history of homeless convicts (history) https://theconversation.com/the-story-of-australias-last-convicts-89723

Homeless veterans https://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/victoria/help-our-homeless-diggers-the-disgrace-of-our-military-veterans-dying-on-our-streets/news-story/a1da0eb69e49e0805d820492d6294ad5

Homelessness and repeat offending http://theconversation.com/homelessness-causes-offenders-to-end-up-back-in-prison-heres-how-to-break-the-cycle-52059

Most ex-prisoners unemployed or homeless six months after release, study says http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-06-25/australian-study-of-ex-prisoners-finds-high-rates-homelessness/5548430

A new approach to poverty reduction http://www1.uwindsor.ca/criticalsocialwork/learning-from-the-experts-a-new-approach-to-poverty-reduction-south-african-homeless-peoples-federat