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Sushi, pets and sleeping rough

By Alison Sweeney - posted Wednesday, 30 October 2019

The man looked like any other homeless person in Sydney, bare feet poking out from under a blanket that had seen better days. Searching for a couple of coins, I notice the sign above him. Doggy Day Care. In the window a plump luxurious aubergine coloured sofa is surrounded by all manner of dog paraphernalia. A sign boasts ‘tents and tunnels to play in, bubbles to chase, cozy beds to sleep in and even a plasma TV for our discerning guests. There are heaters during winter and fans during summer.’

And there we have it. Call it irony. Call it the great divide. But it’s everywhere.

Politicians earn an average base salary of $207,100 following an increase of two per cent in July. The Newstart allowance has not increased in 25 years. While some politicians admit the $555.70-a-fortnight payment would be ‘difficult to live on’ there are no signs of any change.


Our religiously motivated Prime Minister says ‘prayer gives us a reminder of our humility and our vulnerability’ yet steadfastly refuses to help some of our most vulnerable citizens.

Two Tamil asylum seekers and their Australian-born daughters who made a home in Biloela, Queensland for four years are on Christmas Island fighting their deportation. Despite widespread community support and calls from the United Nations to release them, they remain in detention. The Government having spent an extraordinary $30 million on reopening the centre in February with the only inmates being the small family of four.

In the same week food charity Foodbank revealed that there has been a been a 22 per cent increase in Australians seeking food to eat from charities nationwide in the past twelve months, the Bondi Icebergs Dining Room announced it would be hosting a Japanese sushi master charging diners $1000-a-head.

Homelessness in Australia has worsened and food charities stretched. Home renovation and cooking shows dominate prime time TV. Hmm.

We hear ‘if you have a go in this country, you will get a go.’ We toss around expressions like ‘fair go’ and ‘mateship’. Add in sun, surf, sport, and the ability to not take ourselves seriously, it’s a rosy picture.

But dig deeper, and it’s not so rosy.


It’s a worrying time.

Full-time work is vanishing, replaced with precarious part-time or causal labour. The gig economy is flourishing with little or no safety net.

The retirement age is being pushed back and government pensions are shrinking.

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About the Author

Alison Sweeney is a freelance communications professional. Her personal blog is The Instant Coffee.

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