Since the last meeting of the Board I have received the resignation of Mrs. D. Kirkman (Kalgoorlie representative) and Mr. G. Harwood (co-opted).
A replacement for Mrs Kirkman rests with the Bishop of Kalgoorlie, and, for Mr. Harwood, with the Board.
I regret that I also submit my resignation as Director, on my appointment as Rector of St. Luke’s Cottesloe. The appointment of a Director, or any decision in this regard, rests with the Board.
The new suggestions from the Welfare Department in regard to the subsidy paid by the Department to the Mission, have been circulated to all members of the Board and requires full discussion at that level, as well, perhaps, as with the Missioners. A full conference should perhaps be held later this month to discuss this and other matters of policy.
Sister MacDonald has continued to make good progress and has been attending the Royal Perth Hospital for therapy for the past month. I expect that she will be back at work by the end of April.
Meanwhile our team in East Perth is working at full pressure, and the work is not made easier by the increase in vandalism and delinquency among the coloured boys and girls in the area. Two boys were arrested for bashing up a man, and Miss Elliott was able to have one of them committed for medical observation. Shortly afterwards the Centre was broken into, and although nothing much was stolen, a considerable mess was made with broken eggs and torn clothing and curtains.
This, of course, in only the East Perth manifestation of a State-wide increase in delinquency among the coloured teenagers. From all our centre and from every area where there are coloured people come reports of this alarming increase. The Commissioner for Native Welfare rang me just before Easter to ask if we could put a team at Pingelly (where we did have a team for some time) as the local people were concerned about the increase there. It is an inevitable outcome of a system which has given higher educational standards to a depressed minority, and failed to remove the stigma of colour. The problem of employment for coloured boys and girls will become more and more the most pressing for solution.
We would like to think there is no poverty, and there are no underprivileged or disadvantaged people in this wonderful State, but this is not so.
The ordinary family on the minimum wage, and with three or four or more children and renting a house, is the Group in great need. Landlords who charge $50 bond and $20 – $25 a week rent, make it impossible for the family to live – they just exist. Such families find it impossible to pay the $100 it costs to move into a decent house, even if they could find one where the landlord permitted children. Therefore they take an old house miles from a main road, but where the landlord will waive the Bond money, and requires only one weeks rent in advance. In no time at all the problems begin. No bus runs to these remote spots, so Dad finds it difficult to get to work and begins to ave the odd day off, thus reducing the income even more. The teenagers find it difficult to get a job, and impossible to get to any night club or entertainment of any kind because there is no means of getting home. A taxi has to be used to take the children to hospital – as the standard of living is low the children always suffer from many more illnesses probably brought on by malnutrition – or if Mum has to go to town and has to take children with a taxi is used again, thus eating into what little money they may have. As the house is very old the pipes leak, the toilet does not work, cockroaches abound, and it is difficult to keep the place clean. Mum then starts to get frustrated and ‘takes it out’ on the family, they then become difficult and rows and fights are the order of the day. This can all be put down as one big problem…. Housing. Until the State Housing Commission build four-bedroomed houses and cut down the waiting list, there will continue to be disadvantaged people of this type.
Another group of disadvantaged people are the Pensioners who have to live alone. They cannot get a room under eight or ten dollars a week, leaving only a few dollars for food and clothing. Often the landlords will not allow the tenant in the room during the day, and he has to sit around under the trees or attend any club for the elderly that happens to be open, until they can return to their own room.
Older Aboriginals who have always lived with relatives, now find it difficult to get accommodation. Their relatives have been re-housed in good State houses and are not allowed to have other than their immediate family living there. These old people have always shared all they had with relatives, and now they have to fend for themselves they are unable to cope. Aboriginal children and young people are well provided for by the Government. School books, uniforms, fees, and even board and lodging allowances are paid for them, if they care to take advantage of this help. It is the older group who lack the knowledge of how to use modern facilities, who are the sad cases.
One of the main reasons for disadvantaged people in this State is the high cost of renting accommodation, and until some restrictive legislation on rents is brought in we shall have a group of people called underprivileged or disadvantaged.
(Rev. E.C. King)
This document is from the personal papers of Mary Elliott – the language is that of the author