Meet the faces of our hidden homeless
PAUL Hobbs is one of the faces of Sunshine Coast homelessness.
The 40-year-old has lived on the streets for most of his life, spending his nights sleeping in darkened hovels to avoid bashings from thugs and sheltering from harsh weather.
"I don't like it. I've been robbed and bashed a few times - it's a workplace hazard, if you like - Paul Hobbs
"It's a lot more dangerous these days; a lot more nasty people out there."
Mr Hobbs admits he is an alcoholic.
He gets by with social security payments and fruit picking when he can get work.
Right now, he's nursing cracked ribs "after getting a kicking and being robbed" recently in Adelaide.
His meagre income means he would struggle each week for enough money to pay rent, so he chooses to live the way he does. It's been that way since he was 14.
"It was only supposed to be for a few weeks, and that turned into a couple of months and then years," he said.
"Time goes quick, doesn't it?
"You've always got to tuck yourself away somewhere in the dark - under bushes, under bridges, anywhere so you don't get the dew."
Mr Hobbs was one of about 20 needy yesterday who were served a warm, healthy lunch at Quota Park in Nambour, thanks to Sundale nursing home and The Shack community centre.
"When I saw the mushrooms, I dreaded it, but it's good tucker," he said of the chicken carbonara meal.
"They look after you, the people in this town."
Mr Hobbs makes his way around the nation searching for work. He's on his way north, after a former girlfriend used Facebook to track down his sister, who he hasn't seen in 18 years, in Rockhampton
Rae Sweeney, of Sundale, suggested rising living costs were a factor in the lives of the homeless.
"Many only have part-time jobs; if they pay rent, they can't eat," she said. "It's a catch-22 situation for them sometimes.
"Nobody wants to live like this."
Meantime, 54-year-old Mark Wiseley has been homeless for seven years, after walking out of a Maroochydore boarding house following a dispute over rent and the theft of his backpack.
"I sleep behind buildings and churches," Mr Wiseley said. "I don't sleep in parks anymore, it's too dangerous."
The meals in Quota Park are an opportunity for a good feed and socialising.
"I enjoy coming here. It's a home-cooked meal, a family environment. You meet all sorts of
people from all sorts of backgrounds, all walks of life. The meals too, they're good. You couldn't buy them in the shops," he said.
ON THE STREETS
What Mark Wiseley does on a typical day
Read books and newspapers
Buy some scratchies, play some pokies
Go for a walk