Sad struggle for elderly couple who had nowhere to live
AN ELDERLY Rockhampton couple were facing a very real prospect of being homeless on Monday unless someone stepped up to help them.
No explanation was needed and it was all done by the book when David Sichter, 76 and his partner Lyn Luxton, 65, were given their two months notice to leave their privately rented unit at the Eureka Care Community in Frenchville.
Mr Sichter uses a wheel chair and lives with an intellectual disability and while Ms Luxton is mobile, she lives with an acquired brain injury.
Over the past seven weeks, Mr Sichter's niece and guardian (who doesn't wish to be named), has crashed into brick wall after brick wall trying to find suitable replacement accommodation for the couple, facing an overwhelming unwillingness for anyone to take ownership of the situation.
She has spoken with disability providers, aged care facilities (that are either full or not returning calls), Ray White Rockhampton ("who have been fabulous”), Cooke Property Agents, Anglicare, QSTARS, the Department of Housing, Multicap, Endeavour Foundation, Capricornia MP Michelle Landry and Rockhampton MP Barry O'Rourke.
Working 11 hour days herself, the niece said it was impossible for her to accommodate and look after the couple.
Given they operate a rental facility, Eureka Care Operations manager Andrew Heyer said the decision whether to grant an extension to the elderly couple was up to the private owner of the unit and he was unable to provide details regarding their request.
While acknowledging it was an emotive situation, Mr Heyer said the village operated under standard residential tenancy agreements and they had done what they could to help the couple find alternative accommodation.
"Both the rights of the resident and the owner have been observed in line with the legislation,” he said.
With time running out and almost every option exhausted, the niece explained a worst case scenario would be for the couple on Monday.
"I guess the reality is that David will probably have to be a social admission to the Rockhampton Base Hospital because there's just nowhere for him to go and there's no one who can take care of him because his care needs are a bit high for anyone in the family to look after,” she said.
"And to be honest, I don't know where Lyn's going to go. I guess all I can do is ring Endeavour Foundation once again, because they do support her a little bit.
"As hard as it is for me, I don't know what else to do.”
The niece said she came forward not only to appeal to the public for assistance but also wanting to bring attention to the wider issue of how society treated the elderly.
"Yes I would like someone to help them with accommodation if that's possible but I really believe there's a bigger picture and there's a lot more going on,” she said.
"What happens to the most vulnerable people in our society who can't make decisions for themselves ... people say it's up to the family but what if they don't have a family or the family don't have the capacity?
"What happens then?
"David and Lyn have been trapped in this society where the government throws all this money at departments and nobody's been able to help me.”
Having formerly run the Department of Housing in Rockhampton, Member for Rockhampton, Barry O'Rourke was approached by the Morning Bulletin to intervene at the 11th hour to find a housing solution for the desperate couple.
Mr O'Rourke phoned late in the day to say he had spoken with the Department of Housing, who had in turn spoken with Eureka.
"The Department of Housing are working with this couple to try and come up with a long-term suitable housing outcome,” he said.
"They have agreed to provide them with a further two weeks on their current lease and during that time we will look for a sustainable long term housing outcome.”
He said currently there were no vacant public housing properties which were fully wheelchair accessible.
"However we are identifying a suitable social housing property to be modified or head lease a property through the private market,” he said.
"The department is able to override income limits on public housing properties where there are exceptional circumstances such as people living with a disability.”
Late yesterday, Mr Sichter's niece called to say they had found a unit through a private agent.