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Canberra’s homeless

Holden Caulfield 31 January 2008 162

I caught a small snippet of Tony Delroy’s Nightlife program on ABC radio the other night (I think it was Tuesday night). Each night after his quiz he has an issue of the day where he asks punters to call in and ramble on about whatever that night’s issue is. On Tuesday night the discussion topic was homelessness and one guy called in from Canberra. I didn’t catch his name, but he was pretty bitter about our town, and he may have good reason I suppose. I’m not naive enough to deny that Canberra has a homeless problem, but for the most part, it is generally kept pretty quiet. What this guy got me thinking about was, how bad is homelessness in Canberra, and is there more that the more fortunate among us should be doing to help out? For example, in my own pretty comfortable life, I couldn’t even tell you where a homeless shelter is in this city. I think that’s pretty bad.

As a sidenote, I’m sure many will remember the old-ish guy that used to spend a lot of time around Civic, he was usually dressed in a suit and carrying a cardboard box or somesuch. Was sometimes prone to loud verbal discussions, mostly with himself, from his accent I’d say he was of Eastern European descent. You’d often see him in newsagents reading the paper, or whatever. I have’t seen him for quite a few years and I assume he has passed away?


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162 Responses to Canberra’s homeless
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Thumper Thumper 8:08 am 23 Mar 10

2008? Wasn’t that like, in the olden days?

sunshine sunshine 12:49 am 23 Mar 10

wow a story from 2008 has been ressurected

soilduck soilduck 9:43 pm 22 Mar 10

Homelessness is for a number of reasons, including:
* Circle of poverty
* Circumstances
* Mental health
* Physical health
* Family breakdown
* Substance abuse (usually from one of the above)
* Violence or abuse in the home
* etc

In my teenage years I have been close to homelessness due to family breakdown and abuse. However, I had also just started university and luckily, I was able to find money and a place to live. Many young and older people do not have these opportunities.

Homeless people are just like me and you. They have had a rough time and had no way to get on their feet.

A great story about homeless people, education and books can be found at ABC: http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2009/08/13/2654649.htm

Deadmandrinking Deadmandrinking 12:06 am 07 Feb 08

@Special G, I have actually known criminals and addicts myself and I’ve been a victim of crime on several occasions, so I hardly think I’m living in a cotton-wool existence when it comes to this. My dad would probably know about this better than most, I’d say – considering he is privy to alot of information the public doesn’t receive.

Your assertion that most of these ‘undesirables’ do crime to get a kick out of it is just plain wrong. It might be the case with a proportion of low-level crimes, i.e. random assault, some theft and some robberies. A proportion of these offenders are usually just the bullies from the schoolyard doing what they do best in the open because they haven’t really grown up like everyone else. That in itself is a gray area too. Bullies usually do what they do because they can’t find any other way to fit into society.

However, I’d say most more serious crimes like armed robbery and burglary would be drug-related. That’s an entirely different issue and requires some serious and committed approaches to get reasonable resolutions. The courts in the ACT are very good at identifying the root causes of alot of crime, but fail to implement any decent solutions. Giving an addict a slap on the wrist and letting him go is hardly going to solve his addiction problem. Prison won’t help much either. Forced rehabilitation, for a start, is a no-brainer. Psychiatric services to help them come to terms with issues they’re trying to flush away with drugs, community service with victims of crime so they can get an understanding of the consequences of their actions, education to help get them back into the work-force. The buck needs to stop at the courts, not postponed while the offender goes to prison for a couple of years or is let back out on the street with no repercussions to stop them doing it again..

@Caf, totally agree with you. The penalties for chop-chop are a lot higher than most illicit substances (because you be messin’ with da TAX OFFICE, foo), so there’d be little point in large-scale supply operations. That, and chop-chop tastes like sh-t. Legalized heroin would mean the government would have control over it’s price (it’s horrendously expensive for what it is on the black market atm) and it’s content, making it safer for addicts and cutting crime out of the equation.

sepi sepi 5:54 pm 06 Feb 08

Yeah – they are fully addicted to methodone which is kind of the point.

It means they have to visit a chemist every morning to get their dose, and cannot ever spend a night away from home. It also rots your teeth. town – overseas trips are not possible. These reasons are why the person resisted going on methodone for years, thinking they would give up on their own – which they tried but never gave up for more than a day or two.

Methodone is far from ideal, but at least the person in question has given up stealing from their family and lying constantly, and actually has some money in the bank, has put on some weight and looks less like an acne ridden skeleton.

Addicts are stupid for trying drugs in order to get addicted, but once they are addicted it doesn’t help to keep harping on about that.

caf caf 5:44 pm 06 Feb 08

Danman, I think it’s you who missed justbands’ point. There’s an incentive to illegally produce/import tobacco and alcohol – avoiding the excise. There wouldn’t be the same incentive with heroin supplied through a heroin trial, so comparing the two is meaningless.

wishuwell wishuwell 4:24 pm 06 Feb 08

Bit of a difference Danman between home brew/ chop chop and homebake heroin but take your point on board. Like I said theory.

Danman Danman 4:18 pm 06 Feb 08

You missed my point.

justbands justbands 3:55 pm 06 Feb 08

Tobacco & alcohol are sold via retail outlets (& very heavily taxed). There’s a big, big difference (tax avoidance being the driving force behind black market distribution of tobacco & alcohol).

Danman Danman 3:49 pm 06 Feb 08

Supplied heroin=end of black market
Sure – because I mean Tobacco and Alcohol are legalised and certainly there is no fraud in those areas eh ? No one dodging tax excise – illegally producing and selling.

My word not.

wishuwell wishuwell 3:39 pm 06 Feb 08

Supplied heroin=end of black market. Why would anyone go to the expense and trouble of importing a product that no-one was buying. No street market means no new users means in a generation or two no drug problem. That’s the theory anyway.

Mr Evil Mr Evil 3:27 pm 06 Feb 08

“The addict I know well is finally doing well after getting on methodone.”

And now they addicted to metho?

justbands justbands 3:27 pm 06 Feb 08

> I’d rather give them methodone or put them on a heroin trial than give them my DVD player and my jewellery box.

An excellent point sepi. I fully supported the idea of the heroin trial. People would say to me “But why should we pay for their smack?”. The answer was of course: “We already do”. It was simply cutting out the middle men.

Mælinar Mælinar 3:25 pm 06 Feb 08

mmmkay – naturally somebody is holding them down and administering the drugs until they become addicted.

sepi sepi 3:23 pm 06 Feb 08

I’d rather give them methodone or put them on a heroin trial than give them my DVD player and my jewellery box.

The addict I know well is finally doing well after getting on methodone.

Mr Evil Mr Evil 3:19 pm 06 Feb 08

“but mr evil is clearly so very well informed. do you know the current rates for habits to be kicked? what is ‘most’ here?”

I read it in the Chronicle! 😉

“But most people don’t actually really enjoy the druggie lifestyle, and we should be offering them options to try to give up.”

What, like putting them on Metho, or maybe giving them free heroin?

sepi sepi 2:42 pm 06 Feb 08

I meant most addicts want to give up drugs in the sense that most smokers would like to give up. If they could just press a button and be drug-free, they would do it. Unfortunately giving up drugs is really difficult, and requires a few serious stints in a live-in rehab before it can be achieved. Sadly people don’t often get to go to rehab unless they are court ordered to, in which case they are not going in with the right attitude.

But most people don’t actually really enjoy the druggie lifestyle, and we should be offering them options to try to give up.

astrojax astrojax 1:32 pm 06 Feb 08

no, no, ingee – 83.25% are made up on the spot…

but mr evil is clearly so very well informed. do you know the current rates for habits to be kicked? what is ‘most’ here?

Mr Evil Mr Evil 10:17 am 06 Feb 08

The only way most drug addicts give up drugs is by doing a Heath or a River.

Ingeegoodbee Ingeegoodbee 10:07 am 06 Feb 08

Interestingly enough Special G, I was reading in a paper last week (possibly SMH but too far back to remember now) that crime stats for NSW over the 2006-06 period indicated a continuing trend downwards for property crime. The analysis/commentary was that this was attributed to a combination of a long term reduction in the easy availability of heroin and the increased strength of the economy which apparently meant a lot more young men were in the workforce rather than drugged up on the dole and climbing through people windows to pinch peoples DVD players – so maybe, given a choice between a job and drugs there’s a measurable trend towards getting a job.

OT, but the other point in the article was that despite a measurable drop in crimes across the board the community felt more insecure and trusted the police less – compared to 5-6 years previously when crime rates where higher and the community felt safer and trusted the police more.

Then again all this was based on statistics, of which approximately 87% are made up on the spot.

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