AS a 10-year-old boy, Archbishop Emeritus Barry Hickey was disappointed to hear he was not poor.
Attending a Christian Brothers school in Kalgoorlie, he was told, “Jesus loves the poor”.
“They told me ‘that’s what you have to do – love the poor’,” he said.
“I went home that night to my father and mother and I said, ‘dad are we poor?’ and he looked at me and looked at mum and said ‘we haven’t a lot of money but no, we’re not poor’.
“I was so disappointed because God loves the poor so did God love us?
“The teachings the Christian Brothers gave me about this consideration for the unfortunate in society has stayed with me and I hope matured over the years.”
Archbishop Hickey was the keynote speaker at last week’s City of Joondalup prayer breakfast titled Service of the Vulnerable and At-Risk such as the homeless, sick, aged and poor.
Mayor Troy Pickard said there was an increasing issue of homelessness in the cities of Joondalup and Wanneroo because of housing affordability and availability pressures and because both cities were easily accessible by public transport and were seen as relatively safe places to spend the night.
“In today’s society, and in a thriving and prosperous city such as Joondalup, I don’t think anyone should have to sleep without a roof over their head,” he said.
“A number of local churches and community groups currently provide drop-in facilities, care kits and food bundles in the northern corridor and I congratulate you on your efforts to tackle this problem, however, the limited resources these organisations have access to also restricts availability for individuals and families in need.
“I have created a working group of relevant stakeholders to establish a drop-in centre in the city centre, whilst the City has initiated an investigation into establishing crisis housing in the northern corridor and working with other local governments on sharing resources.
“But redressing the incidence of homelessness and people sleeping rough requires a coordinated effort in the north-western corridor and will also require assistance from the State Government.”
Archbishop Hickey said he was “very pleased” the City was looking in to different programs for the homeless “because they are here and there’s no indication they will disappear”.
He said there were many types of homelessness including lack of housing, mental health issues, not being able to use money wisely, running away from home “for probably good reasons” and drugs.
He said there was also a need for emergency accommodation in the Perth.
“For some reason the government is not keen on emergency accommodation,” he said.
“It prefers the longer term solution and that’s a good one but emergency accommodation is still needed.
“It doesn’t change the person’s homelessness; they’re still the same person and they’ll be homeless again, most of them, after the emergency shelter but if it’s cold or raining, surely it’s good to recognise the dignity of even the poorest person.
“There should be a possibility for that person to have a roof over their head for the night.
“So in planning for the future, I’m sure the City of Joondalup will have a variety of solutions for a variety of people.
“Funds are limited therefore privatising might be necessary.”
He said a big part of helping those less fortunate was inclusion.
“From a faith perspective, we look at thebible and we see how the Jewish communities look after one another and also strangers,” he said.
“The poor are with us and as our brothers and sisters, they are one with us and if we stay together, there will be no poverty; people will be supported.
“I think we need to recapture that understanding that the answer to poverty is not simply in terms of services provided, although they are necessary, but the biblical model is about inclusion; including the poor into the community, into the local church.
“If our churches and communities only serve the poor, it’s not sufficient.
“They must include the poor just as we include people with disabilities and people of different countries.
“Embrace them, draw them in to local communities and share.
“They need support, they need love, they need other families around them.
“They will thrive and feel loved.
“They will give as well as receive.”
The breakfast, held at the Joondalup Resort’s Lakeview Ballroom, raised almost $1100 for YouthCARE, which provides chaplaincy services to schools.
The St Mark’s Anglican Community School jazz ensemble and True Voices vocalists provided entertainment.