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

Years ago Susan Carew (Holmes) attempted to start Homeless Lives Matter. It was like a walking meditation in relation to understanding the underlying inequality, poverty trap, ineffective advocacy and what it truly means to Advance Australia Fair as a real proposition of a ‘fair go’ and ‘harmony’. This country was well known for egalitarianism which is equality. In fact Susan grew up in equality and never saw poverty or homelessness in Canberra. In 2024 this problem is clearly visible in most cities.

The hard work on this topic as lived experience awakening questions about true equality, real understanding and freedom from fear, hunger and lack of shelter in a first world country. 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.

Increasingly as narratives and ideological beliefs turn to victim blame homeless or unemployed people, the vilification is used as a reason to cut or stop funding and excise responsibility for those who are not ‘economic units’ but members of a society. The business narrative 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

We could end homelessness overnight with the willingness to do so.

Covid-19 pandemic directives had every homeless person off the street. The Covid-19 narrative repeated ‘death’ as a mantra which had the affect of devaluing life and focusing attention on fear not healthy solutions. Homeless were seen as unhygenic and potentially diseased as this group were perceived as unvaccinated and profiled as dangerous.

Today the homeless are sleeping rough again or living in cars or staying with friends. The issue as demonstrated by Covid was not lack of resources, it was allowing foreign investment in housing, selling public housing, diverting taxation funds away from social infrastructure/services, structuring higher costs of living, breakdown of families, substance abuse (soothing), social isolation, loneliness, anxiety, depression and a downward spiral trapping people in poverty.

Structural violence is a form of violence wherein some social structure or social institution may harm people by preventing them from meeting their basic needs. This may be due to education levels, re-skilling, selling public housing, restructuring an economy to a technocracy for example investing in more IT jobs, and redirecting funding away from manufacturing, admnistration and bringing in half a million migrant labourers to name a few. Traditional areas of employment disappear.

Over the last decade the country has experienced a declining middle class. The Sydney Morning Herald reported: “…The current cost-of-living crisis, made more painful by surging gas and electricity bills along with escalating mortgage repayments has pushed the middle class into uncharted territory. Consumer confidence is a key indicator of our economic health, and has plummeted to levels not witnessed since the recession of the early 1990s – which while unsurprising, is also terrifying. The very foundation of the middle-class dream – financial security and a comfortable lifestyle – is under threat, and is starting to look a lot like the decline seen in middle America over the last 30 years….”

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.

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 on the basis of a characteristic job/no job, vaccinated/not vaccinated, digital/not digital, compliant/not compliant etc. The dominant narrative of inclusion/exclusion provided evidence of the power of suggestion which embeds discriminatory attitudes. It works off the basis of inferior and superior. Therefore, if we undermine, bully, withdraw privileges, stereotype, cite biological/genetic 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 to justify harm.

Frontline documentary: 

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, gender, age, 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. 

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. 

The Technological Fourth Industrial Revolution as cited by the World Economic Forum focuses on implementing a Technocracy using digitisation of business, government and societal interactions. This major change was not the result of a referendum but fundamentally changed Australian democracy (choice) to a compliance model (yes, conditional access) that is used for automation, artificial intelligence, IT computerisation, mass surveillance, loss of privacy, digital IDs, tracking, globalisation where the public are encouraged to buy on-line with digital transactions which means wealth leaves the country and local industries overtime are drained disappearing as they can’t compete with cheap labour or migrants on special visas replacing workers in essential services.

The privatisation of government services and corporate professsionals on government advisory committees ensures corporate interests restructure government public services into this digital cyber space. For example, over 6 weeks in June-July 2023, the Australian Government held consultations on the initial Data and Digital Government Strategy, following its release in May 2023. They heard from members of the public, community and advocacy groups, state and territory governments, industry, academia and the Australian Public Service (APS) in a segmented sample that was not representated of the Australian population. https://www.dataanddigital.gov.au/about/what-we-heard

The Data and Digital Government Strategy report was released by Finance Minister Katy Gallagher and promotes a seamless public sector which is digitised. This has implications for public sector jobs, foreign software companies accessing public data, foreign consultants directing Global Reset policies, impersonal digital interfaces, artificial intelligence and automation. https://www.dataanddigital.gov.au/sites/default/files/2023-12/Data%20and%20Digital%20Government%20Strategy%20v1.0.pdf

Anyone homeless will feel even more isolated and excluded from society rather than given real help in a digital world. The surveillance is frightening and tracking feels like stalking and coercive control. By those who do not value democracy this reality becomes more akin to Aldous Huxley’s A Brave New World or George Orwell’s 1984 as technology amplifies social distancing, dumbing down, low ethics, lack of empathy and reducing society to data bits where there is no debate only compliance or non compliance. This will impact mental health and suffering further unravelling of the social fabric as people become enslaved in a digital dystopia and stare oblivious into their iPhones and walk past the homeless as if they don’t exist.

Solutions

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

The real wealth or abundance is in what we give to each other not what we take. As we experience abundance we give without fear. This opens up the flow of talents, goodwill, ideas, innovation and social support and a sense of community happiness. This builds the real social security.

Happiness! Australia is envisaging a Partnership economics (caring) to replace Domination economics to move away from exploitation and a monetarised life which devalued those trapped in poverty. A partnership system regards people as equal, empowered, supportive, empathetic and moving towards self reliance, empowerment and happiness.

Riane Eisler discusses Partnerships in the Post Industrial economy. Partnership has existed for 30,000 years of partnership.

The corporate modus operandi sell off public assets and contract public services funded by private ‘social impact investments’. This ensures non-profit sectors are profitable within public-private partnerships and privatise assets run by digitised delivery which becomes impersonal and soul-less.

Susan wrote a proposal in 2018 entitled ‘Courtneys Patch Ecovillage’ name after Courtney Herron who was a homeless woman killed in Melbourne and Patch Adams the clown doctor who created an ecovillage community in USA. This ecovillage proposal was recommended to a Housing Minister at a Homeless Conference. The best way out of the poverty trap is to build ecovillages that are self sufficient and sustainable. Those living in community are then self determining, producing their own food and developing new skills on how to live in safe, secure, warm and secure community. People don’t want to be dependent on a system where homelessness is never ended.

Below are links which highlight finding one’s own voice from a lived experience perspective in homelessness, developing solutions, submitting senate submissions and walking to make homelessness visible and starting a radio program (a sample of radio interviews) and self expression in poetry and videos.

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.
______________________________________________________________________________  

Video links

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.  

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

Homeless Lives Matter Electing to Walk to Parliament House

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