BASIC SHELTER: Jullie sits at See Park with her mobile ?wardrobe?.
BASIC SHELTER: Jullie sits at See Park with her mobile ?wardrobe?.

SLEEPING ROUGH

EXCLUSIVE

By EMMA CORNFORD

JULLIE'S wardrobe is underneath a sink in See Park.

It is in a white hessian bag, tied with a length of waxed rope.

Her kitchen and linen cupboards are in the same place; and so is where she keeps her house.

In recent days, the Grafton woman has been taken in by friends, but before that she camped in the park for around three weeks after losing her house.

At night, she would pitch her tent. She would wash using the sink in the public toilets and would pack up her tent early each morning.

There is no sign stating she is not allowed to camp in the park, but she says she did not want to draw attention to her home.

Jullie says she is one of around 'five or six' homeless people she knows of in the middle of Grafton, who sleep rough every night with no roof over their heads and very little to call their own.

She says there are even more in South Grafton, but she doesn't venture south of the bridge.

As she sits in the park, rattling off names of fellow homeless people and explaining how they came to be homeless, heavy black clouds blow in from the south-west, promising a bucketing of rain.

Jullie glances up and acknowledges she is lucky now to have a roof over her head for 'when that hits'.

Last winter, she says, one homeless woman in Grafton was not so lucky.

"She was a chronic alcoholic ? there's no point in trying to say she wasn't. She collapsed in Grafton and they took her to Lismore but she died of pneumonia. She died because she was sleeping in toilets and she had nowhere to go," Jullie said.

Tracy, another of Grafton's homeless population, says before Christmas she was pushing a shopping trolley around.

She has a 13-year-old son but has been without a permanent roof over her head for around three years. At the moment she, her son and her partner are living in a tent in the backyard of her mother's home.

"My partner ended up in mental health yesterday because of all these issues about (having) no home," she says.

"It takes it out of you. A big hail storm went through it the other day (and) it's causing that much stress that I'm almost having a nervous breakdown myself."

According to Jullie, two homeless men were bashed to death in Coffs Harbour last year. She says one was 20-years-old and the other was an old man, 'shoved in the Coffs Creek to drown'.

"Is it going to take something like that to happen in Grafton before they realise there is a crisis going on? People just don't want to know about it (but) something's got to be done." Jullie's eyes well with tears as she says she just wants a place to 'call home'.

"Everybody deserves to have a place of their own, a roof over their heads, that they can call home. They do. It's as simple as that."

Then Jullie points to a man riding past on a bicycle.

"I know that bloke on the bike," she says.

"He used to be homeless too but now he's got a place around the corner; it's really good for him."

She looks wistful for a moment, wishing the dream of having a place was also a reality for her.



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