Sunshine in my shadows

Welcome to sunshine in my shadows. This blog is my space to share all the stuff that makes up my every day life. Family, friends, crafts, recipes, books and all the little things that add 'sunshine to my shadows'. We all have a sprinkling of sunshine and an equal sprinkling of shadows in our lives. Hopefully you will find more sunshine than shadows to read about here and on the days when shadows fall, know that the sunshine is peeking just around the corner!


Saturday, August 13, 2011

The law is an ass sometimes....

I watched a magistrate make my girlfriend and her three children homeless on Thursday. I felt physically sick. I cannot imagine the distress my friend was feeling. Actually I think she was in shock, the distress came later as reality sank in.

My girlfriend's landlord gave notice to vacate so he could do some renovations. He gave adequate notice by law. (30 days) My friend asked for an extension to her vacate date as she has been unsuccessful in acquiring another rental property. The landlord very kindly gave her a further 2 week extension. He then immediately applied for an order of vacant posession. My friend, on the same day we later discovered, applied for extra time to be granted. The hearing went in the landlords favour because he had followed the letter of the law. The landlord has done nothing wrong by law.

My girlfriend understands that the property belongs to the landlord and that he has the right to have it back. All she was asking for was more time to find a new place to live for her and her children. My girlfriend has done nothing wrong. She has looked after the property. She has paid a lawn mowing service to come regularly and do the lawns. She has rented the property for almost 9 and a half years. Her children have grown up there. It was their home not just a house.

If I had not been there to see it for myself I would not have believed how cold and unfeeling the whole process was. When it was over the 'support' worker came and said a few short words to my friend and left us in the waiting room. (We had to wait for the order to be printed up and given to my girlfriend)
My girlfriend was advised to contact 3 different family support agencies (by this time it was 4pm in the afternoon) and wished good luck and that was it. We were left in the waiting room wondering 'what now?'. Fortunately I managed to nab another worker and ask her to please explain exactly what would happen now, was my friend going to wake up with police on her doorstep waiting to escort her from the premises or what? Nobody explained any of this to my girlfriend which I found extraordinary. She certainly wasn't in any fit state to ask.

I phoned one of the agencies we had been told to contact only to be told that they couldn't help. They offered another phone number to try. The helpful worker at the court spoke to the representative from the Salvation army on my friends behalf and made an appointment for her on this coming Monday. (the Salvos worker couldn't come and speak to her as she was busy with someone else) My friend and I then rushed over to the Ministry of Housing and saw a worker there. She basically was sympathetic but referred my friend to another agency and said they were the starting point. (My friend is already on the waiting list for public housing)

So imagine my friend having to go home to her 3 children and having to tell them that they were now homeless and at this point my friend has no idea what they are going to do. Our government ought to be ashamed that Australians can be put in this horrendous position. We as a nation ought to be ashamed that we are so apathetic (or on the other hand so judgemental) that we allow this kind of thing to happen and simply shrug or suggest it is the fault of the homeless person that they are homeless. (that's a whole other rant though and YES I am angry)

Fast forward to Friday morning and my friend calls the other number she was given. Four phone calls later (2 conversations with a receptionist and 2 voice mail messages) and she hears back. By this time she is in a panic and it's almost 1pm. Believe it or not NO JOY! The only thing the worker there could suggest was find a caravan park to stay in meantime. (Ummmmmm she has a houseful of furniture etc and the family pet) She is then referred back to the Salvos with whom she has the appointment on Monday.

I'm socially aware. I KNOW we have a huge homeless problem. I KNOW there isn't enough public housing. I KNOW all of those things BUT like so many of us I never REALLY thought about it much until I SAW what has happened to my friend. I have to tell you it SCARED the living daylights out of me to see how easily it could happen to a 'GOOD' person and it also made me ASHAMED that such a thing could happen in our 1st world country.

So as the situation stands right now my friend is looking at splitting up her family (obviously this is adding more distress to her) and her older children are moving her things tomorrow. They will squeeze my friend and the children into already full homes and wait to see IF my friend is able to get any assistance at all from the Salvos on Monday. I am not holding my breath. Everything we were told by the various agencies/people she has already dealt with suggests she may well have to wait months before anyone can help. THAT is the REALITY of how bad the homeless problem is. I pray that I am never put in this awful situation.
All positive thoughts and prayers for my friend are welcome.

wishing you sunshine in your shadows


  1. Oh Helen, that is just horrible.

    She has been in her hous for 9 and a half years and the landlord can't accomodate her at all is disgusting.

    I hope she finds a resolution as soon as possible and that someone is able to help her.

    She is lucky to have a friend like you.

  2. Thanks Amy. I suppose it's easy for him to feel 'removed'. In all those years my friend has always dealt with the real estate agents. She only met the landlord once, earlier this year.He has done nothing wrong by law and I understand it is his property but as far as I am concerned his moral values are shameful.Of course my friend also feels shame because she feels that people will be judging her because of this, believing that she MUST have done something wrong.(She didn't)

  3. Thanks so much for keeping us posted Helen, l've been thinking about and hoping for, a solution for your friend. l read this post with my mouth agape, and feel such sadness that her precious family wil have to be split up, the disruption to their lives will be hugely disturbing to say the least. l'm amazed at the amount of fobbing off that she's had to deal with as well. l agree with Amy she is very lucky to have a friend like you.

  4. Bron thanks so much for caring and thinking of my friend and her family. Sadly where we live there is a big homeless problem and not enough resources or funding to go around. The agencies can only do so much and they are simply overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of people who are referred to them for help. They just don't have enough money or enough housing to go around. Waiting lists are long. They do have a priority system but that doesn't help when you are a priority 2. (that was what my girlfriend was told she would be rated as)Until the government changes policy to build much more public housing and throws a heck of a lot more money at the problem it is not going to get any better. I'm just so angry when you see tenants that absolutely trash places and they seem to be able to get assistance to get new housing and yet my girlfriend and her kids are a lesser priority and she has always looked after her rental property even paying a gardener to care for the lawns etc.It just seems wrong to me.I just pray that a miracle will happen and she will be given a place to call home pronto.

  5. Its disgusting and an issue I bring up aot to the captain especially when I see so many empty houses.I still believe that every Australian should be in their own homes if things were set up right but it wont happen as there will always be the haves who have to much and the dont haves that would love to have and cant get into that position.I often say to hubby if I could win millions id set up something for this issue.

  6. This is shocking, how distressing for you and your friend. I hope she is able to reunite her family soon. For all the UK's problems, I think people can usually find somewhere to rent fairly easily if money is not the problem.