Australia: Homeless man turns council candidate to fight for human rights and people in need - - PressFrom - Australia
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Australia Homeless man turns council candidate to fight for human rights and people in need

08:20  22 october  2019
08:20  22 october  2019 Source:   abc.net.au

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"All victims of human rights abuses should be able to look to the Human Rights Council as a forum and a springboard for action.” — Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General, 2007.

Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, regardless of race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, or any other status. Human rights include the right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to work and education, and many

a man in a blue shirt: Mark Wadeson used to be homeless, now he wants to run for council. (ABC News: Amy Sheehan)© Provided by Australian Broadcasting Corporation Mark Wadeson used to be homeless, now he wants to run for council. (ABC News: Amy Sheehan)

Having overcome homelessness, cancer and overzealous council workers out to fine him for illegal camping, Mark Wadeson now plans to run for Sunshine Coast Council and fight for human rights.

Mr Wadeson drew attention to homeless issues earlier this year when it was revealed he had been woken in the middle of the night by council workers and told to move on, despite telling them he needed to park near a toilet while he recovered from intense radiation treatment.

Other homeless people in the region later came forward with similar experiences, some were threatened with fines for "illegal camping".

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People in Need (PIN) (Czech: Člověk v tísni) is a Czech nonprofit, non-governmental organization based in Prague, Czech Republic

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Sunshine Coast Council later admitted fault in its dealings with Mr Wadeson, issued an apology to him and said it would retrain its staff.

Six months on, Mr Wadeson said after he secured permanent housing and received an improved cancer prognosis, he decided to campaign for local government on the issues of human rights and government transparency.

"I'm currently housed and currently doing quite well with my cancer treatment, and I've spent the rest of the year arguing with council over human rights," he said.

Mark Wadeson became homeless when his business failed and he was diagnosed with cancer.© ABC Sunshine Coast: Jacqui Street Mark Wadeson became homeless when his business failed and he was diagnosed with cancer.

"And I have thoroughly enjoyed fighting for everyone's rights, so I intend next year to push that issue a lot further if I do get elected."

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Mr Wadeson said while he was homeless he felt he and other homeless people lacked a voice to speak about such issues.

"One thing about homelessness is it teaches you resilience, it teaches you the fact that some governments don't have a social conscience," Mr Wadeson said.

"When you're flying along and everything's OK, all well and good. 'Who cares … what the Government is doing?'

"But when you hit rock bottom, and you realise for the first time that you don't have rights, you don't have this or that and you don't have the ability to obtain them, that comes as an even greater shock to you."

Mr Wadeson said he would also campaign for better transparency of council proceedings to ensure, "governments are actually doing what they say they are".

The volunteer Justice of the Peace said he did not have any corporate backing or funds for advertising, so his campaign would be via social media platforms.

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'Housing is health care'

Mark Ellis from the Maroochy Neighbourhood Centre, who helped Mr Wadeson during the worst of his homeless and cancer battle, said he was overwhelmed to hear of his plans and to see him getting his life back on track.

He said it showed what good could come from providing homeless people with a roof over their heads.

Mark Ellis says no level of government took proper responsibility for the homeless.© ABC: Tara Cassidy Mark Ellis says no level of government took proper responsibility for the homeless.

"I think it's fantastic," Mr Ellis said.

"That's the whole thing. Since he's been housed, his whole life has stabilised, his mental health has improved, his general health too, and he's now even looking at running for council.

"This could never happen prior to the man getting housing. I've said it for a long time, housing is health care, Mark is a prime example of that, the man looks alive again."

Melva Hobson from Organisation Sunshine Coast Association of Residents (OSCAR) said they had never witnessed a former homeless person running for candidacy before, and it was an important milestone.

"It is certainly a first and it's really valuable, we want to see people from different walks of life and experiences on our councils," Ms Hobson said.

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Human rights Human rights are the things that people believe each individual person is entitled, these are principles based of fairness, justice and equality. Determining the value is what makes human rights precious and important to humanity . We know that at some point people , if desperate

Homeless activists are fighting for the same things in many cities. Together, they are beginning to have McMullen and a progressive city council candidate organized a memorial for Benitas, and the Poor Tour started days later. A homeless man sleeps across the street from the Post Office, where

"He will bring a different understanding and background and we want council to reflect everyone in our region so it's really great to see him running."

Mr Ellis said he was pleased to have another advocate for homelessness on the Sunshine Coast and knew Mr Wadeson would keep it at the forefront of council's mind if elected.

Mr Wadeson said his time at © ABC: Jacqui Street Mr Wadeson said his time at "rock bottom" made him realise homeless people have no voice.

"I suppose if you look at human rights, everyone has the right to a roof over their head," he said.

"That is something that Mark will push hard for, I know it will take some big changes in council for that to happen."

'Something needs to change'

Mr Ellis said no government — at local, state or federal level — took enough responsibility for homelessness, and thousands continued to suffer on the streets as a result.

"It's a big game of tennis, everyone smashing the ball to the other, and in the mean time people are living on the street getting beaten up, murdered and abused," he said.

Earlier this year, 53-year-old homeless man David Collin was murdered in a brutal, unprovoked attack while he was sleeping outside a Maroochydore community centre.

His attacker has still not been found.

Mr Ellis said it was just one example of the daily dangers faced by homeless people, particularly men, with the closest men's shelter more than 100 kilometres away in Brisbane.

"We've lost five men locally in three years, David was the first to be murdered," he said.

"But we've lost others from preventable illnesses … things that could have been fixed if they had roofs over their heads to rest, and if they could get to a doctor.

"Instead they're in parks, in the cold, getting moved on."

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