According to the Melbourne Street to home reports 78% of homeless people feel looked down upon. At first seeing this statistic, I mentioned laughingly to my friend, “I want to meet the 22% that do not looked down upon”. Now writing this I really question, who are they?.. Probably those most out of touch with reality and in need of help.
I spend a lot of time down on a relatively up-market stretch, Glenferrie road, near my university. I’ve lived on this street, drunk on this street, and well… spent a lot of time… on this street. One learns to notice the slow change of landscape when they spend a lot of time in an area and the one constant, apart from the seedy McDonald’s restaurant, is the faces of the homeless have not changed since I started studying 4 years ago.
The two men are Anglo-Saxan. The first is a very confused looking man with a gigantic pot belly and sunken eyes. His partner in nothingness has a more resentful slant to his features, perhaps understandably, but carries himself in much the same way as his colleague. Both of these men wear dilapidated blue denim cutoffs and white,well what used to be white, shirts that leave they’re midriff open to all to see. These two lurker’s have sat down and watched this street change next to me, but from a different vantage point. While they’ve watched me scoffing down a 10$ sandwhich, I’ve watched them scavenging for money. As I’ve watched paramedics come to take them away, they in turn watched me wave away their various attempts to beg.
My eyes glaze over the moment I see them walking down the street. They’re the walking dead, the bottom of the barrel, undesirable and a scary image of the worst case scenario. I can’t help them on my own, that would be ridiculous. Wouldn’t it?
We live in what is supposed to be the most livable city in the world, Melbourne, and yet we have these people, who obviously cannot help themselves, living like this. I say that cannot help themselves because our country does provide shelter for the homeless, through Centrelink and emergency accommodation, but the majority of people without housing have a mental illness. And until a system is made to deal with people like this, there will always be sad souls sadly whiling away in front of people on Glenferrie rd. Tackling homelessness to me is not just about getting people off of the streets. It’s also about finding lasting solutions to stop people from becoming homeless in the first place.
22773 people are homeless in Melbourne. That’s enough people to fill out our Olympic Park Stadium and then some. And that number increases day by day.