Jane and Paul spend their days roaming the Border, looking for a place to live. By night, they find a space to park and sleep in their car.
A portable camp stove will heat baked beans or canned soup for dinner. It’s a sad situation that is about to get a whole lot worse: Jane will give birth in seven weeks.
FOR the past week, Jane and Paul have been sleeping in their maroon Commodore at Mungabareena Reserve, Noreuil Park or parking spots along Lake Hume.
By day they pack up and motor around Albury-Wodonga, chewing up precious fuel only to be told there’s no home for them — they have to join the waiting list like everyone else.
By dusk they’ll return to a waterside picnic spot where they’ll heat up canned soup or baked beans on their portable camp stove before the dark descends.
Paul sleeps awkwardly in the front, while his 18-year-old fiance lies across unwelcoming back seats.
Her knees curl up to her big pregnant belly and the seat belt buckles press into her side.
In seven weeks she’s due to give birth to their baby, but after 12 months on the public housing waiting list they’ll have to wait another year to get their own home.
Jane saw a doctor at Elmwood Medical Centre this week who told her the baby was potentially at risk because of the stress.
But it’s hard to stop worrying.
Jane and Paul (not their real names) came to Albury-Wodonga two weeks ago in search of a better life for their baby but now Jane fears she’ll leave hospital with no home to go to.
They came from Mittagong where Jane was living with her drug-dependent mother.
The Department of Family and Community Services told her she had to get out of that environment or her baby would be immediately taken away.
Paul spent some of his childhood in Wodonga, and had heard there were jobs on the Border.
So with the department’s help they drove to Albury, with one free week at a motel during which they could find a house.
With a budget of $160 a week for rent, they applied for six houses and received six rejections.
The one agent who gave them feedback explained to Jane she was too young.
They’re on the Housing NSW waiting list but that queue stretches up to two years for a family home.
Paul says he could get work but has been told he needs to get a house first.
When last Saturday came, their last day at the Garden Court Motel, they still didn’t have anywhere to live.
So with a little stove in the back, a picnic basket full of cutlery and a pile of blankets and towels, the car has become their everything.
It’s with them during their daily pilgrimages in search of someone who will help, and it’s there where they go to sleep.
Jane used to be a short order cook and aspires to finish her HSC.
“I want to be able to give my child the childhood I never had,” she said.
“My mum had a chance with us kids, she’s lost us twice. I would like to have the chance to make it right for myself and prove that I’m not like my mum, that I can do it.”