At 15 ‘Ben’ leaves his home in Western Australia for the Bega Valley.
Unable to live with mother’s mental illness and her abusive boyfriend he hopes to make a life on the east coast with his father, whom he hasn’t seen since he was three.
He feels rejected and alone and has trouble controlling his anger and aggression.
This makes it hard for him to live with his father, who has remarried and has several young children.
This delicate relationship, and his new start, is destroyed by these unresolved feelings and arrangements are made for Ben to stay with his grandmother.
The stability he finds there is short lived as she becomes unwell and Ben moves in with a family friend.
His untreated anger issues cause that relationship to also breakdown and Ben finds he has run out of options.
He feels alone and rejected and has nowhere to sleep.
Ben’s story is one of several that have come to light in recent weeks as the Magnet looks into the issue of homelessness.
Like an unseen illness, it is happening within our community as people of all ages struggle to find affordable accommodation during difficult periods of their lives.
Eden and Bega are key areas of homelessness within the Bega Valley Shire.
The shire itself had 208 households experiencing homelessness in various forms during the 2006 Census, a number Ricky’s Place founder Ross Williams says could be doubled to be more accurate.
Indeed, another 206 households lived in marginal accommodation in caravan parks.
Rising living expenses are putting more people at risk of losing their homes making the work of local non-government organisations like Anglicare, Auswide and Mission Australia more crucial.
Social workers and charities say there is a critical lack of affordable housing, particularly temporary or transitional accommodation.
More social and health workers and volunteers are needed to increase the community’s ability to address this issue, including early intervention with at-risk adults and children.