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.