Byron youth homelessness not a ‘gypsy lifestyle’

Photo Rudiger Wasser. For more visit

Homeless youth in Byron shire do not ‘choose’ a ‘gypsy’ lifestyle, argues Byron Bay youth worker Nicqui Yazdi. Photo Rudiger Wasser. For more visit

A long-time Byron shire youth worker has accused the writer of an article on homeless youth camps in Byron Bay of glossing over the ‘shameful’ truth.

The article Life in Byron’s Squatter Camps appeared in last week’s Byron Shire Echo and Echonetdaily.

It quoted a local former homeless resident Terry as saying, the squatters could be divided into two groups: ‘ones who choose that lifestyle, and ones who can’t genuinely find a place.’

A second commenter, Charlie, suggested, ‘Some are [drugs] them recreationally and for spiritual reasons, like taking magic mushrooms. They’re not just getting out of their heads. They’re making a connection with the infinite.’

But youth worker Niqui Yazdi said the article, by Bay FM journalist Anna James, ‘does Byron’s homeless no good whatsoever. It is flowery and fluffy and makes no point at all’.

‘Homelessness is not a “gypsy” lifestyle. There are no gyspy kids in Byron,’ Ms Yazdi wrote in a letter to the editor published today, ‘but there are a shitload of seriously impoverished young people, who daily face the very worst kind of struggles anyone could ever face: no homes, no comforts, no food, no family, mental illness, ill-health, drug and alcohol addiction and the constant fear of abuse in many, many forms.’

‘I would say that very few of those who are homeless and under 25 would be on any kind of “spiritual journey”, most have had either long-term issues with family, drugs, alcohol, or mental illness – and if they didn’t start out that way, then often these things end up a part of their homeless “journey”.’

Ms Yazdi said that many young homeless teenagers ‘find their way into little groups, often more so because they feel safer like this, but then, as a group, it also sometimes encourages drug and alcohol-misuse,’

‘I find it appalling that so many in this town see our homeless people as a “problem”, Ms Yazdi wrote. ‘In fact, it is a shameful disgrace that the plight of these people is often seen as a “shame” on our town and that attitudes of some people towards our homeless, is that this is a “policing issue” as I saw one prominent local business person refer to it last year.

‘What so many seem to forget, is that many of our homeless have come to this through circumstances sometimes beyond their control. Families get evicted from their homes here when their rents go up to a point where they can no longer afford to pay the ridiculous rents, or to have those homes turned into “happy houses” or holiday lets.

‘Young people become homeless for so many reasons, and there is nothing for them here if they do. In fact there is nowhere for our homeless to go now, since the cottage was closed, to even get a shower, wash their clothes or keep their belongings safe. I am truly saddened by the homeless situation in Byron and I sincerely wish that appropriate solutions could be found to help them,’ Ms Yazdi wrote.

The full text of Nicqui Yazdi’s letter can be viewed here.

9 responses to “Byron youth homelessness not a ‘gypsy lifestyle’”

  1. Dave w says:

    That photo looks like the front of a church in byron that does many good things. Yet to correct some more widespread Byron religious hypocrisy I doubt Jesus would entertain security windows on churches or several large churches unused most nights each week while many sleep rough or out the front of a church.

    Most of these well resourced churches and members are also not on a ‘spiritual journey’ or truly embracing the down and dirty ‘ Christian lifestyle’ taught by Jesus.

    More tokenism, delusions, lies and omissions that maintains this issue.

  2. whothewhatthe says:

    That’s the front of 30 Fletcher Street Byron Bay shown in that image. Can anyone confirm that actually is a church/building? Internet search says it’s offices?

    ps Anyone else out there getting fed up with all manner of folks monotonously slamming shut their cars doors anytime, anywhere, morning noon and night? Dramatically rude blasts of hugely loud high decibel noise, tends to wake folks up when sleeping, homeless or not! Practice care and awareness people, be present, you’re in Byron land you know!

  3. Ebony Purnell says:

    I have made the best of my life regardless of what I have suffered over the years and I am so proud of what I have achieved. I have local work, two beautiful boys that I have raised. Regardless of what I have been through the children I raise are the main reason I live so well these days. If you want to do a story about my situation and the positive effects then I would love you too! Pm me in regards if you are willing! I would love the homeless story to be indexed my me! I have a lot to say about different options that could be put in place!

  4. VivKay says:

    It should not be the job of churches to compensate for a draconian and greed-based economy, being propagated by our governments. Many churches struggle financially, and already help in what they can towards the disadvantaged in communities. Our largely housing-growth, and inflation-based, economy means forcing up house prices for the benefit of investors and property developers. Housing is a basic human right, not something to be exploited, and pushed to stratospheric prices, unaffordable for normal people! If we lowered our third world rate of population growth, restricted foreign “investors”, and made a transition to a more productive economy, we might be able to contain our nation’s wealth, and well-being.

  5. Wolfgang Mavern says:

    A gypsy lifestyle is pretty different to being a local homeless person.
    A gypsy usually has other gypsy friends “family”, Which they share with, learn from, and help each other with whatever they can; and we can’t forget that gypsys travel and are therefor independent of the broken system, not dependent and stuck in there situation.
    Another point as a homeless person and ex experimental drug taker is that spiritual guidence should come from our community, preferably from a mentor or someone to look up to.
    I see a breakdown of humanity and a division of class in Byron.
    Wether youth or not, we are homeless because we can’t find the right situation…which is most likely due to the inflexible nature of our systematic life, supported by you.
    Your a shell until you decide to rebel.
    I am homeless because I have trouble sleeping around modern noise and the inability to tolerate capitalism as well as raising awareness for the homeless/disadvantaged.

  6. Concerned says:

    This addresses the very real problem, of rent prices becoming ridiculous… I am a long time Byron resident returned after 2 years away and am APPALLED at the prices of rent here… What level of greed is this… We charge this money because we CAN.. with no thought for the outcome of this on the community… Do not be surprised at the rise of crime and stealing, when life gets this crazy and expensive…
    Lets rethink this… and a HUGE thank you to those few that keep their rents reasonable and affordable… You know who you are…

  7. Sut says:

    We could not agree more with this , whilst we don’t have a solution, fundraising for you have a friend a northern new charity will help many in need, including lots of single mothers and children.

    So come and dance for charity this Sunday 31 from 3 to 9pm at the Billinudgel, entry is free.

  8. Pete says:

    [Regarding] the comment that ‘…homeless or not! Practice care and awareness people, be present, you’re in Byron land you know!’ Practice what you preach. Start by goggling mindfulness and then … developing … compassion for the homeless.

    Note: this involves more than volunteering once a year to hand out a pair of gift wrapped Target underpants and jelly and ice cream to the homeless on Christmas day.

    If paid parking is stage one in the social cleansing of Byron Bay then stage two must surely involve sweeping the homeless from town. Newspaper articles and comments which circulate the idea that being homeless is a lifestyle choice made by feckless (and noisy) people are a prerequisite to this process.

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