Can-Do-Ability: Answers and Solutions from my personal experiences of living with a disability

Drug Dealer Allowed To Stay In Public Housing

27 Jan 2011An Australian report was put out this week, about mentally ill and homeless people having their welfare payments cut.

This has caused uproar amongst welfare lobbyists, when facts stated that over 1,200 mentally ill, homeless or those at risk of becoming homeless have had their dole payments either cut down or completely stopped for a period of two months, without the possibility of being able to receive back payments. The reason for these cuts, are for recipients of unemployment payments, not showing up for scheduled Centrelink appointments, not showing up for Centrelink appointed courses, voluntarily leaving a job or refusing a reasonable job offer.

Despite some of the community being outraged by these results, the number of people to fail to show up to appointments or courses has dropped dramatically in the past year from 32,000 to 13,000. So regardless of how many unemployed have been affected by this ‘tough love’ approach, the figures show that it seems to be getting the message through, to show up or expect no handouts.

I understand that there are some unemployed people in society who are mentally ill or homeless due to circumstances beyond their control, but for some, it has been brought on by themselves.

A report in the Herald Sun earlier this month, showed that one unemployed man in Victoria, who lives in Public Housing, was caught selling heroin to undercover police officers 3 times. He was taken to court, as this is in violation of Public Housing rules, where he plead guilty to dealing drugs whilst residing in his high rise apartment, and he was given an eviction notice and ordered to vacate the property. The decision was overturned however in an absurd claim, that it was a ‘breach of his rights’ under Victoria's controversial Human Rights Charter. His defence lawyer argued that the Director of Housing didn’t inadequately prove that the man was using his apartment to sell drugs. Despite the police reports stating that he sold heroin from his apartment doorway and another time in the apartment blocks stairwell. A raid on the man’s unit was also carried out by police where drug money was found inside.

It sickens me that in Victoria alone, there are over 41,000 people waiting for assistance from Public Housing, yet someone like this gets to keep his government assisted home and receive welfare payments whilst selling drugs and supporting his own habit.

The Public Housing system should have tougher methods to decide that those who receive assistance, really do genuinely need assistance, and aren’t just taking advantage of the system. There are far too many drug dealers and drug addicts taking up space in Australia’s Public Housing system while people with mental illness or disability are being ignored and forced to wait in line.

Instead of letting this man for example, stay in his Public Housing unit, he should be ordered into a rehab facility to get clean and eventually get a job. And for those who aren’t showing up to their appointments for welfare payments, they should be made to frequently meet with a social worker in order to keep their payments. That way, if they aren’t taking a new job or showing up to appointments due to mental illness, homelessness or drug abuse, someone (a social worker) would be able to refer them to somewhere else for them to be given the appropriate assistance.

Because, for people who are in these situations, cutting off their payments will only fuel either suicide or criminal activity, and that will create more problems in society. It needs to start from the beginning of the problem for anything to change.

Hey, at least he's telling the truth!

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