Peter the Tailor

6 May 2018

Peter migrated to Australia in 1965 with his wife and children from former Yugoslavia, now Croatia. opened and ran his small tailoring business for many years in the northern suburbs of Melbourne. Upon retirement, Peter and his wife decided to move back to Croatia to be closer to extended family and old friends. However, whilst there Peter lost his wife so decided to come back to Australia just over 4 years ago. Peter was unable to find affordable housing, and was forced to move in with family which didn’t last.

Peter became homeless and lived in his car for almost three years. His health deteriorated significantly and during this time was in and out of hospitals for pain reduction treatment. Peter finally found out about a local homelessness service in the north-west suburbs and after meeting with them they referred him to our Home at Last service for specialist assistance.

“I told all the nurses and doctors at the hospital, and my GP, that I was homeless but no one referred me anywhere. No one tried to find me a suitable place to live. No one helped me, I was in extreme pain that was made worse by not being able to lie down and sleep properly”.

Our outreach service began working with Peter and discovered he had lodged a public housing application but it had not been approved for priority, as he had some personal savings. Peter said, “I had just enough for my funeral”, a sum that made him ineligible for priority housing even though he was homeless, Peter does not want to burden his family with the cost of his funeral and always made sure he had enough to cover this.

We actively looked for other options for him and managed to secure a community housing property from a charitable organisation, however, it was on the other side of town from his family, friends and social supports, particularly a Croatian speaking seniors group that he regularly attended. Although Peter was now no longer “homeless”, he was very lonely being so far away from everything familiar to him. The outreach worker assisted Peter to address his health issues, especially the waiting time for a hip replacement, With our advocacy, his GP and the Northern Hospital listed Peter as a priority patient for multiple hip replacement surgery. We also arranged for Peter to be assessed by My Aged Care so after surgery aged care services would be implemented to enable him to fully recover from the operation.

The worker also advocated for Peter be rehoused in his preferred area and when this was approved we were all delighted that he would finally be offered a public housing property in an area of his choice. Just before Peter was to complete the tenancy sign up for his new home the hospital notified him of a surgery date. To enable Peter to be discharged from hospital to his new home, we negotiated with the Office of Housing to conduct Peter’s sign up at the hospital. Upon discharge we assisted Peter to both move and establish his new home.