I have just read, with no small interest, the article headed “Homeless in the Bega Valley”, (Eden Magnet, July 26, 2012) As one of a bevy of housing professionals in the Bega Valley who has been raising the issue of homelessness and housing un-affordability with Ministers, Shadow Ministers and sundry funders and stakeholders, for the past two decades, it is wonderful to see the issue getting some coverage in the local press.
The article carries an anomaly, however, which appears to pervade similar articles on the topic throughout the Valley of late, and that relates to the ‘founding’ of Ricky’s Place at St John’s.
No one person can be given credit for founding Ricky’s Place at St John’s.
It is an initiative of the Anglican Parish of St John’s Bega, its congregation and partner services, and the failure to acknowledge this fact is worthy of redress.
While it may well be that the efforts of some have enjoyed a higher public profile than others, to refer to any one person as the founder is inaccurate and, in fact, disrespectful to the many people who have put their weight behind the initiative since its inception.
If anyone were to be accorded credit above another, perhaps that recognition should go to Ricky himself; the itinerant homeless young man whose dream to create a community kitchen and support service for the Bega Valley's homeless, Ricky’s Place at St John’s was based upon.
It was Ricky’s plight and selfless dream that inspired the founding of Ricky’s Place at St John’s, and it is to the very great credit of the parishioners whose lives Ricky touched, that they were willing to act to address an identified need that had been largely ignored and/or decried by governments over many years.
Garry Mallard OAM, MAHI - Coordinator
The National Tenant Support Network