Carevan not the answer: priest

Peter MacLeod-Miller with emergency food program worker Angie Barney. Picture: BEN EYLES
Peter MacLeod-Miller with emergency food program worker Angie Barney. Picture: BEN EYLES

THE rector of St Matthew's Albury says the Carevan initiative is hiding the real problems of alcoholism and mental illness in the community.

Archdeacon Peter MacLeod-Miller, believes the van is distracting people from the reality of homelessness and the long-term welfare of clients.

He believes it masks poverty, the neglect of disadvantaged people, mental illness, addiction and youth violence.

“The Carevan is just a temporary arrangement, it doesn’t do anything about the long-term solution to these sorts of problems,” Father MacLeod Miller said.

“People’s attention is distracted from dealing with the real issues because they think that the need in the community is being dealt with when in actual fact it’s not at all.”

“Homelessness is not actually the big issue, you don’t need to look very far in Albury to be made aware the real need is for family support.”

Father MacLeod-Miller said the “soup kitchen on wheels” model belonged to a bygone era and had little purpose in a 21st century rural setting.

“He says the van should act as a referral service and deliver meals rather than serve on the streets.

“A food delivery service would be far more practical and it wouldn’t drag people out into the public,” he said.

“To make vulnerable people more vulnerable is just ... madness.”

Carevan Foundation founder and chairman Dr John Brabant dismissed the archdeacon’s comments as “jealousy”.

“A lot of religions and charities are a little bit jealous of what’s happened in a non-denominational manner,” Dr Brabant said.

“I’ve come at it with an entrepreneurial angle and people tend to think you’re doing the wrong thing but it’s more effective, you’re not beholden to any religion or charity or government bureau.

“My aim is to try and pull them together, to form an advisory council that can liaise with the Carevan,”.

He said as well as serving hot meals in various locations across the city the Carevan is also supplying Broughton House Youth Refuge with meals.

“The van is the front line, we’ll be distributing meals to needy families, awarding youth scholarships, programs for families, and supplying pamphlets,” Dr Brabant said.