falling between the cracks

falling between the cracks

Sebastian is a 49 year old man of Anglo background.  He is gay and has been subjected to ongoing discrimination, including physical and verbal abuse,  for most of his life.

The Rooming House Outreach Team visited him at the rooming house where he has lived for the past two years. Altogether, there are thirteen people who live there. Sebastian told us that he was very concerned for his safety as there was significant drug use at the house  and drug-related violence. Sebastian has been a drug user in the past but has been clean for the last two years.

Sebastian receives the Newstart Allowance and pays $200 per week rent. As a result, Sebastian has little left over each fortnight for food, medication and other basic  requirements. He often goes days without food and is extremely underweight. He also has mental health issues which are compromised by his frequent inability to purchase prescribed medication and as a result of living in a violent, hostile environment.

At our initial meeting, Sebastian presented as extremely depressed and reported that he felt powerless about his current situation. He said that he tries to spend as much time out of the house as he can and visits the local library on a daily basis. When he does return to the rooming house he retreats to his room and stays there, ensuring he has as little contact with other residents.

Sebastian originally lodged an application for public housing in 1998 but the housing authority lost contact with him, forcing him to re-register in 2006. He was recently approved for priority housing but has not yet been allocated accommodation.

As a Newstart recipient with mental health concerns, Sebastian is required to attend a local Job Support provider but reported that they seemed to do very little for him.  He wanted to transition to the Disability Support Pension as he believed that his mental health issues make him incapable of successfully undertaking employment.

The Team advocated with his bank to cancel overdrawn fees charged following a reduction in his Centrelink payment, and also provided a food voucher along with
a day trip voucher for public transport so that he could attend a Centrelink medical review.

Since the Team’s involvement, Sebastian has been approved for the Disability Support Pension and his application for public accommodation has been re-prioritised.

Sebastian remains at the rooming house but due to an increased income is able to ensure he has enough to eat, can purchase his medication and can get out and about more often, while he awaits an offer of social accommodation.