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Why I’m joining the CEO sleepout tonight

By Shane Rattenbury MLA 19 June 2014 32

shane-r

Canberra is stunning in the winter – the frost, the fog on the lake, the trees changing colour. But, Canberra gets bitterly cold and for one night every year Canberran business leaders, members of the ACT Government and community leaders spend a night sleeping on the street to raise money and awareness about homelessness.

As the Minister for Housing, I am sometimes struck by Canberra’s contradictions. Canberra is a city that offers a great quality of life, wonderful natural surroundings and low unemployment. But in winter, and thanks to initiatives like St Vinnie’s CEO Sleepout, we are reminded that these opportunities are not equally available to all members of our community. Thousands of Canberrans for a range of reasons, are unable to find safe, secure and, most importantly, sustainable accommodation every day. As a Territory and as a community, I believe that is our responsibility to do all that we can to reduce this inequality.

In my time as Minister, I have been impressed by the efforts of the community sector and the government to reduce homelessness, and the different initiatives and services offered to support those who are already homeless. By working together, we have seen funding directed to the development of Common Ground. For some, Common Ground will provide an opportunity to break the cycle of unstable and insecure housing and homelessness, and offer permanent and supported accommodation for people experiencing long term homelessness in Canberra.

Last year, I was happy to support Columba’s Uniting Church in Braddon to open up their doors for a few nights each week in winter to people experiencing homelessness to offer a warm place to sleep and someone to talk to. I recently visited the Church, and it is great to see that volunteers are once again opening their doors.

However, under the Abbott Government, I have also seen a real reduction in funding and policy direction for both Housing and homelessness across the country. The ACT relies on these funding partnerships to deliver the services that many vulnerable members of our community need to get by day to day. I share the concern and uncertainty of the sector as we wait to hear what the Abbott Government’s next steps may be.

It is also clear to me that homelessness is both simple and complex – simple in that it is indisputable that the fabric of our society and our community is weaker for every Australian who does not have a safe and secure place to sleep. Complex, in that there is rarely a single cause or single factor that has lead to over 100,000 Australians experiencing homelessness all around the country.

The drivers and causes of homelessness may appear to be a straightforward lack of houses, but the reality is more complicated. Yes, we do most definitely need more public housing and more supported accommodation. But, we as a community also need to work hard to understand and offer the rights kinds of support at the right time. We must invest in family counselling, mental health interventions, financial assistance and increased employment and training programs and develop a more nuanced and resilient approach to homelessness in our community.

I’m pleased to support the St Vincent’s de Pauls CEO Sleepout, and I’m grateful that I get to go home in the morning. I can only imagine how hard it would be to not have a home to return to.

What’s Your opinion?


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32 Responses to
Why I’m joining the CEO sleepout tonight
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VYBerlinaV8_is_back 12:08 pm 02 Jul 14

wildturkeycanoe said :

There are plenty of places the homeless could find a roof over their heads, just look at the schools the government closed down throughout Canberra. I went past the Higgins Primary School the other day, empty and forlorn. With a bit of a cleanup it’d house an awful lot of people, say a family to each classroom? Such a waste of resources that would suit temporary accommodation for many families in need, waiting the long wait for public housing. Sure, the toilet facilities are shared, but there’s more than enough. There’s locks on doors for security, heating and cooling [If it was good enough for students, why not homeless]. You know what, I’m going to recommend this to our politicians.
Unfortunately, I know the answer will be a heap of political mumbo jumbo wrapped in red-tape and that is why nothing gets done to help people. An obvious, simple and easy solution always gets shot down by politics, legal issues and plain rejection for the sake of “It’s too hard”.
Any shelter is better than under a bridge or in a car, even if it needs a bit of a clean up.

Very well said.

wildturkeycanoe 7:30 am 02 Jul 14

There are plenty of places the homeless could find a roof over their heads, just look at the schools the government closed down throughout Canberra. I went past the Higgins Primary School the other day, empty and forlorn. With a bit of a cleanup it’d house an awful lot of people, say a family to each classroom? Such a waste of resources that would suit temporary accommodation for many families in need, waiting the long wait for public housing. Sure, the toilet facilities are shared, but there’s more than enough. There’s locks on doors for security, heating and cooling [If it was good enough for students, why not homeless]. You know what, I’m going to recommend this to our politicians.
Unfortunately, I know the answer will be a heap of political mumbo jumbo wrapped in red-tape and that is why nothing gets done to help people. An obvious, simple and easy solution always gets shot down by politics, legal issues and plain rejection for the sake of “It’s too hard”.
Any shelter is better than under a bridge or in a car, even if it needs a bit of a clean up.

bigfeet 9:24 pm 01 Jul 14

Ben_Dover said :

How many homeless could the money to be wasted on the light rail project house?

Maybe the homeless can take shifts sleeping in the carriages whilst they are running to the city and back completely empty?

It will basically be empty from 8.30am till 4.00pm weekdays and every night from 5.30pm to 8.30am the following morning. They can probably have it all to themselves for the whole weekends as well.

bundah 6:43 pm 01 Jul 14

Pork Hunt said :

Ben_Dover said :

How many homeless could the money to be wasted on the light rail project house?

Perhaps they are homeless because they are dysfunctional or mentally ill? If they won’t or can’t live under a roof then no amount of money saved on tram fares will help them.

Not just the homeless but the money could be spent in many problem areas such as crime prevention, rehabilitation, health services, roads etc rather than an ostentatious white elephant!

dungfungus 6:37 pm 01 Jul 14

Pork Hunt said :

Ben_Dover said :

How many homeless could the money to be wasted on the light rail project house?

Perhaps they are homeless because they are dysfunctional or mentally ill? If they won’t or can’t live under a roof then no amount of money saved on tram fares will help them.

In some European cities the homeless actually sleep in trams left out of service overnight.
We could arrange that in Canberra. It would be a win-win outcome with the homeless getting shelter and Capital Metro increasing off-peak patronage. But they would be getting “free fares” you say?
So what, we have bus drivers who decide who pays and who doesn’t so why not trams as well?
Anyhow, public transport is supposed to run at a loss.

justin heywood 6:24 pm 01 Jul 14

We’ll Shane, I can’t say that you have changed my mind about the Greens, but I appreciate that you have taken the time to respond to some of the issues raised in this thread (and the one free-range eggs).

Pork Hunt 6:18 pm 01 Jul 14

Ben_Dover said :

How many homeless could the money to be wasted on the light rail project house?

Perhaps they are homeless because they are dysfunctional or mentally ill? If they won’t or can’t live under a roof then no amount of money saved on tram fares will help them.

Ben_Dover 5:40 pm 01 Jul 14

How many homeless could the money to be wasted on the light rail project house?

Shane Rattenbury MLA 3:44 pm 01 Jul 14

Hi,

I’m glad my article created some discussion and awareness about housing and homelessness in the ACT – this is one of the aims of the Sleep out. I%u2019d just like to add a few further comments in response.

Busdriver in particular talked about the complexity of governments response to the issues – the whole government ( and the broader community) need to think about jobs, training, education, mental health support and alcohol and other drugs counselling, and many other topics – all areas that intersect and cross over. I%u2019d like to think that we are doing some good work in all of these areas.

There are many more initiatives than just Common Ground that are designed to both prevent homelessness and support those who are experiencing homelessness – but I didn%u2019t write the article to spruik these programs. Please go to http://www.communityservices.act.gov.au/hcs, http://www.streetlaw.org.au/advicecentres or http://www.assistance.act.gov.au

If you would like more information about what we are doing.

References to the Federal Government%u2019s policy direction is not intended to be “blaming the other side for everything.%u201D It is intended to highlight that at a national level, currently, there is a significant level of concern and uncertainty in the community (and amongst service providers) about where the Federal government is headed. Federal funding is a critical source of revenue for many service providers, and they are anxious to know whether funding will continue next year after only being provided a 12 month contract for the second year running for vital programs. Just so people know, it%u2019s not a partisan issues – this is the same situation the sector faced 2 years ago under the previous Labor government as well. The issue is about money and priorities.

And lastly – Most days I cycle to work, and I do catch buses to get to places too far away to cycle. I also drive a car at times.

Shane

Pork Hunt 5:57 pm 24 Jun 14

dungfungus said :

IrishPete said :

Jeez, you’re a churlish lot.

I frequently hear or read interviews with people on the sleepout who are NOT CEOs, but somewhat further down the tree. It’s a buzz-slogan (my new word, no you can’t use it without paying royalties), not a literal description of the event.

Shane is neither the leader of The Greens nor the only Green. He’s the only Greens MLA.

And as for TheBusDriver allowing people to warm up on the bus – good on him. The extra fuel to carry that extra passenger would be almost unmeasurable. It’s costing no-one anything, and it’s potentially saving hospital visits for hypothermia or other illnesses related to being cold.

IP

Unfortunately, Rattenbury, whatever his status is that makes you happy, is using this opportunity for political purposes which should not be allowed.
The Bus Driver is a well meaning but misguided person. It is not within his authority to decide who rides for free and who pays, is it. Have you seen recent articles about ACTION inreasing enforcement against fare evaders? I wonder why.
Also, you know diddly-squat about costs of running a bus.

Since when has a politician (any politician) NOT used an event (any event) for political purposes?
They are creatures unto themselves and since we are not living in Korea North of the 38th parallel, they can and will do these things.
Situation normal, move along, nothing to see here…

TheBusDriver 4:38 pm 24 Jun 14

Pork Hunt said :

dungfungus said :

rommeldog56 said :

dungfungus said :

Shane Rattenbury is a minister in the Labor/Green minority government, not the Chief Minister.
So, how come he is posing as a CEO?

And to TheBusDriver, that’s very noble of you to allow the homeless a free ride but you don’t own the bus service. If you want to claim that you are being charitable you should pay for the tickets out of your own pocket rather than share the cost amongst Canberra ratepayers.

I actually agree with a lot of what you say on Riotact, dunfungus. But not this time.

Its a bit harsh telling someone that helping the homeless (or anyone for that matter) while carrying out their paid job, is not acceptable.

This guy/girl is probably risking their job or a sanction by helping others in need. I’m sure as Ratepayers, we could all accept that.

I say good on you TheBusDriver – and thank you.

TheBusDriver has already stated that ratepayers do not underwrite the cost of free travel he allocates to people he judges to be down and out. Is this is code for he doesn’t work for ACTION or what?
If he doesn’t work for ACTION and the bus service isn’t his then whoever he works for is being ripped off. If he owns the bus then I will be the first to say “God bless him”.
I have often given a free ride (and a few bob) to people who are obviously in need. I have also been approached by dishevelled people in shopping centres asking for a few dollars to catch a bus to the next town centre. In every case I say “well I am driving there now so I can give you a lift”. The response is always expletive loaded abuse so I tend to be a bit cynical about some of these “homeless” people.
I notice those of you who critisize me on this issue haven’t explained why Shane Rattenbury has assumed the mantle of a CEO for an opportune publicity stunt.

Is he or is he not the leader of the Greens?

I can assure you, that no, I am NOT the leader of the greens.

justin heywood 3:46 pm 24 Jun 14

IrishPete said :

Jeez, you’re a churlish lot.

IP

Oh come on IP, Rattenbury is not a chief of anything in the strict definition or even the spirit of the expression ‘CEO’.

Evidence? He’s sleeping out with people who have, through talent, risen to the top of their organisation; other will have, through hard work and good management, be running their own successful companies.

Rattenbury has not even risen to the top of that fairly shallow talent pool that is the ACT Greens. Nor was he given a ministry through any talent.

He was simply the last man standing in the Greens near electoral wipeout – the Steven Bradbury of ACT politics. He only has power through a mathematical quirk.

The fact that he has used his luck to largely dictate the flavour of ACT politics – far beyond any mandate given to him by the electorate – is an arrogance typical of the Greens.

And good on the bus driver. I know that there is a large section of the community who quietly do good works every day, without sanctimoniously lecturing the rest of us on how noble they are.

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