“Poverty is not an accident. Like slavery and apartheid, it is man-made and can be removed by the actions of human beings” Nelson Mandela


First up, I’d like to say thank you to the people who gave us some financial donations after the last newsletter. We raised close to $1800. This was quite close to the target of $2120. Can you afford 50 cents a day to help feed and house the people in need? If so we would be very grateful for your assistance with our work. If you cant afford that, then maybe we can help you?

Donate here


I have known “Tom” for about five years now. It doesn’t matter what season we are in, Tom is always wearing long pants, long sleeve shirt, and usually suit jacket or sports coat and a hat. I’ve always assumed that this is his way of helping him to maintain his dignity. It is also a long time between the laundering of his clothes.

Whenever I ask Tom how he is going, he always replies “good, good”. Last Wednesday I decided to engage him more. I said to him that he always says he’s going “good”. I then said life can’t be easy for you, is it?

He said his mother is in Sydney and has liver cancer. He said they are operating on her next month. He said compared to his mother, he is doing well and that is true. He went on to say that had tried to save up some money for a rainy day. He wasn’t able to save up much, but what he had, he gave to his mother to help pay for some of her medical expenses.

Fortunately for Tom he knows a number of people who live in Sydney. He has three friends who have agreed to let him stay at their house while he visits and supports his mother. He is now saving up for his trip to Sydney and back. I asked how that was going, he said he was selling off some of his possessions to help fund the trip.

We talk some more and he told me about some of the hassles he is having with seeing his son. Tom is divorced from his wife.

What occurred to me after this conversation was that it takes a lot less to send him into a crisis than the average person. Besides that, he has the same types of crises and hassles that we all have, with a couple of exceptions.

The first is that he stands out from the crowd because of the untidy, unkempt and he wears unseasonable clothes.

Secondly, when he incurs some unexpected, relatively inexpensive costs such as an air ticket to Sydney and back, he has to go to severe measures to meet these costs. While he has acknowledged that he is selling some of his possessions to meet these costs, my experience tells me that there is a high chance he is taking out a short-term loan with one of the many secondhand shops.

Usually the minimum loan term is 2 months and there is a maximum loan period of 12 months. The average loan incurs a $400 establishment fee and has an interest rate of 48%.

At Community Friends we don’t help people fund these types of costs. Our main aim is to fund our food, our truck and transportation costs, and our insurance costs. It is surprising how much these expenses are.

As for Tom, we will continue to focus on giving him emotional supporting needs and to help him by providing food for his everyday living.

* Since this story was written, the federal government has announced a one off Centrelink bonus of around $750. This may or may not arrive before Tom goes to Sydney. In either case, he will be able to pay off any loan he takes to fly to Sydney.



Some of you may have remembered a story I wrote about one of our clients “Rivers”. I have copied and pasted the story below in case you are new to Community Friends.

Rivers wants to be more computer literate, but he needs a computer to do this. Our existing supporters who helps us with acquisitions of secondhand computers aren’t in a position to help us at present.

So, I am asking you if you have a computer you no longer need. If you don’t have one, can you ask your friends and work colleagues please.

In case you were wondering, Rivers feels the grinding of the upper bones in his neck all the time. He still won’t seek help for this neck fracture.

The Original “Rivers” story.

“Rivers” was left for dead when he was hit by a car at 4am.
A couple of months ago, I had a knock on my front door at 9am. It was “Rivers”. He was holding his little finger. His finger looked like it had been put in a pencil sharpener and sharpened to a fine point

I asked him what had happened. He said he thought he must have been hit by a car on his bike. He was riding his bike, then he woke up on the road. His bike was seriously damaged. It was about 4am in the morning.

Naturally I asked him why he hadn’t woke me up earlier, he said he didn’t want to wake me up.’

I took Rivers to the Princess Alexandra Hospital Emergency Department. They admitted him and amputated part of his finger. About 3 days later I received a phone call from the hospital. They said Rivers was signing himself out of the hospital. They wanted to put a halo brace on his head to stabilise it. He had fractured 2 of his top vertebra.
I counselled Rivers about his decision, but he was adamant that all he needed was good food, sunshine and exercise. He is still walking although he admits he can feel his vertebra grinding from time to time.

Till next time
Mark McDonnell
Community Friends.

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