Don?t ring us
By UTE SCHULENBERG
LORNA Dixon and Anto Donovan know all about living rough.
Eighteen months ago their resourceful lifestyle was being feted on the SBS reality series, The Colony.
The two Bowraville artists and teachers, along with Ms Dixon's daughter, Amber, were part of the Aboriginal family group in the series, set in the early days of NSW colonial life.
Now the couple are effectively homeless, living in a garage in Macksville along with five children who have come into their care.
"We have been looking for a house for two months," Mr Donovan said.
"We've tried in Bowraville, Nambucca and Macksville.
"The real estate agents say don't ring us, we'll ring you but then they never ring."
Ms Dixon said when she visited family in Bourke last year, her sister's children wanted to come back to Bowraville with her.
She is already caring for her own daughter and granddaughter.
"In Bourke the kids never went to school," Ms Dixon said.
"They are all doing well at Bowraville Central and they want to stay."
But the accommodation situation is taking its toll.
As one Nambucca Shire family worker put it: "Overcrowding creates all sorts of behavioural and health issues. Relationships get frayed.
"A suitable roof over their heads is the first thing they need."
The manager of the Nambucca Valley Neighbourhood Centre, Jo Hill, said finding appropriate rental accommodation was difficult for everyone in the area, especially in the case of large families, indigenous or non-indigenous.
"Our community has chosen the private rental market to solve the social problem of housing," Ms Hill said.
"Property owners make the final decision and the bottom line for business is the dollar."
Bowraville doctor Vivienne Tedeschi said the situation had come to light last week, Naidoc Week.
"I know this family, their previous residence has been sold and they are caring for these kids that are not even theirs," Dr Tedeschi said.
"Lorna makes all their clothes. The fact that they have nowhere to go makes me feel ashamed to be white and Australian.
"Naidoc Week is all about pride but the fact this is still happening feels like for every step forward, there are five steps backwards."
Ms Dixon, whose father has just died, was too upset to speak to the Coffs Coast Advocate yesterday.
But Mr Donovan said the situation still did not look good, although they would be making inquiries with a real estate agent about a farmhouse.