Wednesday, October 25, 2006

We're not all billionaire property developers: from reffo to houso in just half a century

DH celebrates 50 years of (ever-diminishing) freedom

Korneuburg Refugee Camp, near Vienna
Spring, 1957

Here's DH and family snapped a short time after absconding from Hungary with just 2 shopping bags containing the family photos and all the clothes they could wear on their backs.

Note in the background, one of the cattle wagons that were such a handy policy tool for disposing of unwanted populations in 20th century Europe.
Hmmm ... cd still work ... wonder how our Federal and State policymakers let this obvious solution slip under their radar?

How differently Australia treated refugees then!

You may be asking, how come DH's family became housos instead of property developers like the rest of their countrymen? They look fit and healthy, why didn't they work harder? Sadly, it's a tale of hidden disability and despair. Suffice it to say that DH's father worked a 6 day week till he dropped, for wages that barely paid for the rent on a 2 bedroom flat and the old bomb that got him to work.

DH's mother's disability made her unemployable, but nobody realised she had a disability. They just thought she chose to be "wierd" and "lazy" and wasn't trying hard enough. The poor bloody woman applied for literally 100's of jobs, and always got knocked back. The poor thing never understood why, or how others saw her. She tried so hard, and the heartbreak was endless. The penny only dropped when DH's daughter was diagnosed with the same hereditary condition. The family's greatest sorrow was that they had not put in for public housing when it was a normal pathway for hard-working migrants to establish themselves.

And, so in old age, DH's parents found themselves regularly being forced to pack at short notice, shunted around at the whim of landlords and property speculators.

DH's father, one of the best of men, loving, generous, hard-working, devoted, and with a wicked sense of humour that DH can only dream of emulating, died at 69, overwhelmed by grief at a lifetime of hard labour that left the family with nothing.

DH's passion for housing justice springs from this legacy.

And as a reffo, DH is old enough to recall a time and a place when the possession of a slip of rubber-stamped paper could mean life or death. Tha'ts why she worries about incursions on our civil liberties with increasing surveillance from the ominously named Centrelink.

Watch out Australia.

When it comes to freedom from tyranny, you were on a good thing.

Don't blow it!


Anonymous said...

some questions:

1. how do you manage to access the internet for a blog if you are as down on your luck as you claim?

2. apart from your centrelink payments why do you pay for things like health insuarnce via direct debit when you're never sure if there is going to be enough money to cover it. thats just silly, of course you'll be charged dishonour fees!

Profile said...

1. Blogs are free. DH has a cheap internet bundle which means her phonecalls are free.

2. Good question. Some people are just plain silly when it comes to focussing on maximising money, and that's why they end up being housos instead of mates of Joe Tripodi frinstance. Anyhow DH's health fund insisted on direct debits when she joined. But thanks for the tip, she should check it out. Also DH is an optimist and always trusts that her pension/ pay will be in her account when it's due. Time was when that was not too much to ask.