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Byron Shire
November 29, 2022

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: Open letter to holiday makers

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Some of our flood victims have been housed in the accommodation you’ve booked, and they’ve been asked to leave. They have been asked to leave so your plans aren’t disrupted.

Dear holiday maker taking up the emergency accommodation of a flood victim…

We are sorry that our floods have impacted on your plans. Really. We all know how much you must have been looking forward to this time away. It’s horrible to lose something you love, like a getaway. It’s even worse to lose your home, your car, your school, and everything you own. That is the situation for the men, women and children in our region who are homeless. From the Clarence to the Qld border the estimated number is 22 000. It’s going to be a long time before these people have homes. And even longer before they have holidays. 

None of these people planned to ruin your holiday. They were people with homes living their own life separate to yours. But now, this Easter holidays, there’s an unexpected intersection of your life with theirs. Some of them have been housed in the accommodation you’ve booked, and they’ve been asked to leave. They have been asked to leave so your plans aren’t disrupted. So that you can sleep in the beds they have sobbed in and eat at the table where they’ve gathered to regroup themselves. Their misery is deeply etched on the conscience of us all. Can you feel them watching you? Their frightened, homeless children? They won’t take long to pack, because they have nothing.

They’re being moved to the Gold Coast and Grafton and Brisbane. Our climate refugees, shipped off, out of their communities, away from what support they have in a time of crisis to stay in other interim accommodation. We have had to relocate them because of your plans. You need to know that. You need to know that we are all impacted by this terrible disaster. When you have been witness to this loss, it’s hard to imagine anyone would blithely cause more distress if it can be avoided.

We’re not saying don’t come here.

You are welcome to visit, but we are in this conflicted position you see. Our community depends on you coming here.

Our businesses need you. But could you help us out? Maybe, instead of us looking for other options for our region’s homeless, maybe you could bring a tent with you? Hire an RV? Bring a caravan? Hell, why not buy one and leave it here! Or hit up a friend who lives in the region (and was not affected by the floods)? Maybe, instead of stretching our overstretched services, you could help us by organising your own alternative accomodation? And while you are here, why not volunteer to spend a day helping someone?

A lot of people have asked how they could help the thousands impacted by these devastating floods. This is one way. Oh, and maybe suggest to your friends they don’t buy up homes and put them on Airbnb. That would help too.

We had a housing crisis before these floods; 40 per cent of our housing stock in Byron is on short-term holiday letting platforms. So, when our entire region gets slammed by a catastrophe, our community is left scrambling.

What we’re saying is, please come, but if your holiday booking has been housing someone in emergency accommodation – can you let them stay? Do something radically compassionate, take a blow to your own comfort so that people who have lost all of theirs can have just a little? 

Ironically, I ask you this at Easter, the holiday that commemorates the much-publicised sacrifice that the Christian God made for humanity: His son.

All you have to give up is  your week in holiday accommodation, to help our community rise again. Thank you.

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  1. Mandy, your message should be published in every newspaper. I am reminded of the time the Olympics came to Sydney and people were made homeless by being pushed out of accommodation to make way for tourists. Have we as a nation learnt nothing about care, kindness, compassion. It strikes me too how much I rely on the Lismore Echo to keep me in touch as to what’s happening in Lismore/Northern Rivers region where I have family and friends as I live down south. Thank you Mandy, thank you The Echo.

  2. Brilliantly said, Mandy. In my neck of the woods we’d thought it out as well
    & wondered how to go about it. You are a ray of sunshine.

  3. I agree with you Mandy. What would be great, is for the owners of the holiday accomodation who are chucking flood victims out, to email your article to the holidaymakers who have made bookings. If this happened, I wonder how many tourists would agree to booking the same accomodation for a future holiday?

  4. Will the Greens actually stop supporting the northern rivers economy being based on tourism (which it would have done long ago if it were a real environment party)?

    Because if not, well then this is really stupid from Mandy Nolan

  5. Well said Mandy! Thanks for standing up for our far north coast community members who’re homeless. I wonder how the Premier & the PM would like to be subjected to repeat homelessness for the sake of the mighty dollar. Keep up the good work and words Mandy.

  6. If asked to leave for incoming cashed up tourists
    Holiday makers ? Just refuse to leave .. however
    Can understand some families have booked and paid
    Large sums to have the annual family break
    And probably over 50 % are not that flush with cash
    But have saved considerably just for the once a year break .. just average families..also with a national disaster being declared by the government, it would be illegal to remove those
    Displaced in emergency accommodation .

  7. Well said Mandy.. Anyone with any ‘tact’ would cancel as well…Especially with regards to accomodation crisis for flood victims. ( A crisis which existed loooooong prior to the floods)… Its almost like ‘people whom attend traffic accidents’…..

  8. No, as I understand it, the taxpayer is paying, and the taxpayer will pay to move them elsewhere for easter and house them there

  9. Lavender she is only standing up for those homeless due to floods who got subsidised rental costs so they could use holiday rentals.

    Those who were homeless before the floods did not get such housing assistance, and the Greens are ignoring this – like they ignored those already unemployed when they demanded jobkeeper for those who lost their jobs due to covid.

    The Greens don’t apply their “social justice” ideas equally

    • Yes it should have stayed higher but everybody get the increase? I think you are ill informed about what happened during this time – neither Greens nor Labor advocated that only those thrown out of work post lockdown should get the Covid supplement.

  10. Total compassion, yes Mandy your spot on.
    Surely letting go of the income for this year if you already own a house and an investment property, is possible, in this truly traumatic time in some peoples lives.
    To rise to a higher level and just be very kind it will come back ten fold.

  11. If the tax payer is paying for the flood victim’s accommodation, and we will pay for moving them elsewhere for the few days of the Blues festival, then I think it’s very unfair to heap guilt on people who have booked to attend the Blues festival, which they have been waiting for for three years.

    What about the businesses that have also been devastated by the floods, Covid, fires and drought that have ripped the livlihood from so many people? They finally have a chance to attempt a partial recovery and they now face the condemnation of a bunch of green virtue signallers.

    How many people are you housing Mandy? Have all the people who have written in here offered their houses to the people displaced by the floods? How many have gone to these people offering some sort of financial assistance?

    Words are easy – perhaps you should realise that everyone is in a very difficult situation and maybe stop judging those struggling to maintain their businesses.

    And no, I am not coming to the Blues festival and have not booked accommodation.

  12. I don’t understand why people want to holiday here at the moment with such devastation and sadness.There are other places in Australia that they could choose just for now.Leave the homeless were they are.just give then so time shelter and food….the basics of existence.Thanks Mandy for your truth.we are all feeling it

  13. People want to go to the Blues festival Wendy, and after three years of devastation they have every right to do just that.

  14. Blues fest . . . how about those wanting the ‘delayed fest’ set up
    their own tents. Even Steven. It’s no big ask.

  15. Dear Mandy Nolan.
    I write a very compelling and compassionately written article. Let us wish this could become a reality, for the evacuation crisis currently occurring.

  16. I note that none of you virtue signallers have been able to say that you are personally doing anything at all to help the flood victims. Walk your talk or stop attempting to heap guilt upon innocent people who have every right to try and survive financially during this crisis. How many of you are on the dole and accepting the tax payer’s assistance?

  17. Short term holiday letting in residential areas is a curse for this community, but maybe the accommodation providers, from the range of sectors who made their spaces available for emergency use, quite fairly assumed that governments state and federal may have stepped in by now with more permanent arrangements for a situation that won’t be resolved in a hurry.

  18. Dear Mandy Nolan.
    You ✍ a very compelling and compassionately written article. Let us wish this could become a reality, for the evacuation crisis currently occurring.

  19. You’re broard, one size fits all condemnation of holiday makers is just apauling! Is non inclusive to the point where these visitors must feel so unwelcome after reading your article..that they just won’t come here at all.
    You’ve also tarnished the sentiment of good people in our region who are generous of heart but rely on trade from our visitors ie people in the retail, entertainment, catering and housing sectors. These people need tourists to visit our region and yes to actually stay here aswell. Holiday makers keep the economic wheels turning!
    You do not speak for me with what you have written.

    We do not need aspiring politicians writing negative articles like this one of yours, we have enough pollies in the business already doing that.

    Why not come with a solution, step up to show real leadership. Get a system happening to help those displaced peoples. We have a crisis on our hands! It needs actioning! And now! Set up a Web data page – Match up displaced flood affected people with local people who can provide accommodation. You might get some displaced people into a safe place and not taking up airbnb accommodations which owners rely on for their own income and existence.
    Friends of ours have accommodation and it sits vacant. If a system is in place and advertised extensively, it will yield dividends. There needs to be a comprehensive awareness campaign. How about instead of flouting the ‘dangerous for our health covid vaccine’ ads..replace these with ads to get displaced people into homes and into safety.

    I welcome all visitors to the area! They can come! And shouldn’t need to rough it in a tent if they can’t or won’t!
    Bluesfest is on..yay! Come here please people and support our fabulous hosts. Our region relies on the visitors. Many visitors have relatives living here and many visitors have donated money and physically, personally helped the flood victims (fact).
    You know, we all feel for those who have been displaced and are currently roughing it, they have been impacted, Yes, and I’d say most are strong and fit and have the capacity to look after themselves without you ruining a whole local enterprise with words in a newspaper article that are divisive that surely have ramifications, and not for the better.

  20. Excellent points Ricky! My, and a lot of other people’s sentiments exactly. I find Mandy Nolan’s article almost a political virtue signalling scramble for “likes” without any thought for other people who may be suffering. Appears like she is attempting to ruin the Byron economy, without, it seems, offering her own place as refuge. Clearly she is in a good financial place herself – as are most politicians.

    All you festive Blues fans – welcome! Do not be bullied by the ghastly “woke” “do gooders” who do no good for anybody but their own egos.

  21. We want politicians to become good comedians but not the other way around!


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