This past week serial preyer on marginalised people Mission Australia’s Missionbeat unit, assisted an organisation we’ve never heard of,Mercy Foundation, to conduct a “survey” of Sydney “Rough sleepers”. The City of Sydney usually have some involvement also.

We were highly amused at the results as published Nov 3. 262 “known homeless” in Sydney.Our current rough sleepers far exceed 500. This has a lot to do with the “Surveyors” methodology. Many “night-sleeping” rough sleepers are “mobile” by 0430 hrs, when they started their count. But most of the elderly rough sleepers and many aged 14-25 sleep during the day.  In addition, we admit warning many NOT to co-operate with the survey because the benefits will flow to the government and NGOs while mere scraps are doled out to our community.

  We were less than amused with the “researchers”  methodologies, so checked out perpetrators.The Mercy Foundation website indicates that they are a “Grants” awarding body of the Catholic Church who,in 2008,decided to become involved in “homelessness”.Right about when the federal government were formulating their huge waste of taxpayers money for their “The Road Home” disaster.We don’t know if Mercy Foundation co-ordinated this survey Australia wide, or how much they were paid to do it. They were assisted by long term business masquerading as a charity and Serco wannabe Mission Australia – who have organised the past two “Rough Sleeper counts” and we suspect been instrumental in Police visiting those campsites and sleeper locations about a fortnight later, moving many on in defiance of the NSW Homeless Protocol But you can bet the survey will be carefully massaged to further use rough sleepers as tokens to collect tax and corporate dollars with -to be spent on NGO infrastructure, staff  “research” and “consulting” needs.

Not only did they have the temerity to deprive those who wanted to of appropriate sleep by “waking them up”, these gung ho, unqualified intruders took photos. Consent given when the subject has just woken up does NOT constitute informed consent.

  The final insult is the $10 “payment” made to Rough Sleeper respondents-for three successive nights of invasive prying. Our inquiries revealed that the standard payment rate for survey completion in a face to face setting ranges from $30 to $150. These researchers, typical of the Poverty industry, chose to undervalue homeless people again -as is the norm of their profiteering business model.  

  As none of the listed organisations is noted for its research quality, we called two well known pollsters and a supporter, a mathematician and statistician who happens to lecture in research methodologies. None were able to hazard a guess as to what part photos may play in genuine statistical research. I then asked how useful various government agencies including police and immigration might find photos in an effort to deduce a logical and ethical reason for these ‘researchers” taking photos. In each case my question was met with a darkened acknowledgement that there were “other government” opportunities but all stated that such collection methods, while not illegal, were most certainly unethical. The point was also raised that these photos could be used as fundraising and promotional material by the various agencies who are aligned with this project.

  The Sydney Morning Herald quoted the perpetrators of this “Survey” as saying “Unlike the common public perception, most homeless people do not want to be homeless.” In our experience and with our broad base of over 5000 contacts we asked -and the response was 100% that they DO NOT see homeless people as “wanting to be homeless.” While we agree as but a few say they “choose to be homeless whatever the options,” this does not mean that any form of accommodation is an acceptable “solution.” Unaddressed is “How many will remain homeless in preference to living in Supported Accommodation Assisted Program Housing” with its onerous case management structures attached.How many are unwilling to cling to the flimsy thread of short 6 monthly leases, to be flung out at the whim of a gung ho realtor or greedy landlord? In Australia,by agreement between the Poverty Industry and government SAAP is the major gateway to public housing and involves an invasive (and for the taxpayer expensive) case management service whose role is to find out how many government departments and NGOs might be able to use this person as tokens to collect further copious amounts of public money for themselves or their employer. While some homeless people identify some of the “services” as useful, many do not-in fact regarding them as draconian obligations. Also unaddressed is Rough Sleepers correct perceptions of the onerous extra obligations placed on Social Housing Tenants by State Labor driven modifications to the NSW Residential Tenancies Act 1987 -placing obligations on Social Housing Tenants which other tenants do not have and giving the Marie Antoinette and aboriginal embarassment of NSW Politics Linda Burneys Housing NSW powers which other landlords do not enjoy. For me personally, I will not faithfully report each and every person who stays at my house to Housing -or anyone else.Either I pay and control the property, or I don’t pay-simple.

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