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Crisis Help Network: Melbourne Homeless Services

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Ghost Fences

Clawing back credibility seems to be easier for some than others. It's a life-time occupation for anyone who has had a substance abuse problem. We are not to be trusted - we are to be humoured, patronised and constantly reminded of our past, our points-of-view honoured with dismissive slights and condescending micro-expressions. Never mind the fact that at the moment we just happen to be kicking a few goals instead of sticking needles into our arms, ramming a double scotch down our throats or thinking of how to fuck over the next person who comes into our range.

We are told that we are lucky to have access to housing, therapy, and re-education programs which are tailor made to fit square pegs into round holes, as well as a social apparatus that will, depending on whether it be the medical or the religious model, detach us from our terminal uniqueness via a God of our misunderstanding or medication not of our understanding. We have access to cognitive therapy that would keep many of our emotional wounds at the forefront, festering away, rather then lay them to rest, and the notion that, given time, our fever will drop to a manageable temperature along with our anti social behaviour. We may well be exhibiting symptoms of borderline personality disorders and impulsive behaviours and a myriad of other things that do not sit comfortably with society's current norms and mores - I am yet to meet anyone on either side of the fence that does not - and why try calibrating normal behaviour with addiction as a template, it's a pretty unfair sample when we do tend to validate our own behaviour in opposites.

You can now take comfort, and rightly so, that we now have a voice, albeit paradoxically gagged, and false hope given to us by agencies devoid of purpose and responsibility who just put their hands up for funding while pursuing their own personal agendas with no real intent about addressing core issues; they only serve to reinforce the perpetuation of the full time employed client mentality, and indelibly stamp in our minds that the cure may still be light-years away. Lets face it, boys and girls: all the psycho babble, all the academia and the duplicity that partner it, are not worth a pinch of shit on the streets where the Lord is not your Sheppard and you will always want and Plato is a tag on a bit of graffiti.

What about a bit of respect? What about the notion that we may have the tools already to work our way out of this fucking nightmare, which give us a real say in how our programs could be structured, implemented and run? What about sending one of us off to a conference on homeless people and perhaps listen to what we have to say on these and many more subjects? What about you guys cleaning up your act by addressing issues such as the fragmentation and lack of communication between your services? Why not take the opportunity to get your ears and legs on the ground and have a bit of a yarn to us about our unique perspective? We are not a culture in a Petri dish. We are a part of your community. What could be a way to start to break down the ghost fences?

Author Ian Archibald

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