Disability and Australias housing crisis

As some of you know I have been working my arse off, these past few years to regroup after years of chronic health and 7 years of misdiagnosis and NO MEDICATION. 3 years ago i was unable to toilet or shower myself without aid and help from family and friends, it was my lowest point and circumstances prompted me to seek additional medical advice. 3 years later i am correctly diagnosed, on substantial medication and as of next month will have met the criteria for specialist but $$$ medication. THANK YOU FOR YOUR TAX DOLLARS, they have and will keep me out of a permanent wheel chair. Sadly 7 years of misdiagnosis means substantial and irreversible damage has been done to my body, but i have returned to study and am eagerly working with my specialists to return to work on a low capacity.

Much of my eagerness is based around the 12 years i cared for my chronically and terminally ill mother. I saw first hand the effects of poverty and long term chronic health. Trust me when i say the only thing worse than living in poverty is dying in it. So i eagerly hope towards changing my future, but sadly I feel this is the cost of growing up in what i perceive as Australia most financially underprivileged generation.

Over the past 6 months or so I’ve been trying to educate myself and create a functional ten year budget that includes home ownership and this is the math I’ve come to.

Starting mid-2019, assuming I work 2 days per week at $35ph and still get some Centrelink I should expect to earn $1500pf in income.

The average Villa/Unit in Queenslands Burpengary/Caboolture/Deception bay areas is $235,000 its more or less the same in Regional Victorias Traralgon – greater region and even the Southern suburbs of Adelaide. Brisbane’s property market is holding steading and according to domin.com.au is expected to increase in price by up to 5%PA over the next 10 years, so I can expect the medium unit price to be $300,100 in 6 years’ time.

I will need at least a 20% deposit to not pay lenders mortgage insurance, more if they penalize me for a part pension income, which sadly is possible. A higher deposit potentially also helps negotiate a lower interest rate, although that too is highly likely to be impacted by perceived ‘socio-ecconomic’ status

With an income of $1500 PF I can expect to save $500pf towards a mortgage a $100pf saving will go towards every day expenses. $450 paid in subsidized rent! Thus it will take me 4.62 years to save a $60,100 deposit. Keeping in mind I have 1 year of study ahead of me as of today’s date to return to work and I will need a few months to move and settle in etc.. I can expect it to realistically take 6 years to save a mortgage deposit.

The current average low interest rate is 4.2%, but that interest rate maybe as high at 8% in 6 years. I will need to pay $8k in establishment fees, not including stamp duty; $16k with stamp duty included.

QLD & SA currently have a $20k First home owners grant and free stamp duty for FHO but that may not be around in 6 years.

Minus the $60,000 mortgage deposit, I can expect a

$240,000 Home Loan

@ 8% Interest rate

$10 Monthly mortgage fee

25 Years

Repayments will be $859 PF

Keeping in mind incomes have stalled but CPI has not and this is likely to continue for many years to come, my maximum affordable repayments will be $900,00pf

Thus I do not see myself affording a home in the foreseeable future and considering stagnated wage growth and decreasing housing affordability, I suspect a recession will be Australia’s 20 year future.

On average you will live through two recessions and one depression in your life time, and given the current state of Australia economy, i fail to see how a single person from my generation can afford to buy a home without one. Sadder still for the folks caught out in one, who this is equally unfair to.

I’m discouraged because i fail to see what anyone let alone our government is doing about this, they can guarantee AAA rated banks and they offer a first home owners grant but heaven forbid they do something about the greater underprivileged who can not afford housing without help. How is it, no one has thought to offer a Lenders mortgage insurance guarantee or exemption for under privileged households who can show proven savings histories and good credit ratings. Or what about subsidized mortgage interest rates, either would be good option for folks like me, who comfortably handle a budget and just need a LEG UP and not a hand out. At the current rate folks everywhere like me who could handle a mortgage will be permanently priced out of the market with no hope of recovery. Let me tell you when it comes to chronic health and housing needs THERE IS NO DIGNITY IN RENTING! and it seems cruel to force folks like me further into the shadows while the middle class thrive. God help the folks who have zero hope of returning to any work capacity.



Getting an Education?

I’m looking at school next year, ideally I really want to go to RMIT the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology it’s the better school, it has scholarships and better student support services but it is in Swanson St, city. I can’t afford to live in the city but maybe in the country town of Warragul. Warragul is 1.5 hours from the city but it’s still closer than the 3 hours I currently live away from the city. 

The other alternative is Chisholm at Berwick, but there student support is limited, they do not offer scholarships and based on vline’s website, it’s going to cost almost as much to travel there on train as it will getting to the city. Driving isn’t cheaper. 

If I drive to Berwick it will take 1.5 hours and I’ll be additionally exhausted. If I train it to the city from Warragul it will also be 1.5 hours but I can rest on the train. It will be 2.5 hours train from the Latrobe Valley where i currently live. 

Both options will make my days 14 + hours long 4 days per week. 9-5 at school plus Travel. 

My local Federation training is not offering IT. 

Of the two I think attending RMIT and moving Warragul is the best bet. That bloody train fare though 😦 Damned if I do, damned if I don’t.

And such is the plight of most of underprivileged Australians trying to make a better life for themselves. The rising cost of education is as high as it has ever been, our property market is some of the most expensive in the world at around 70% of the Average Australians wage and petrol is expensive everywhere, it’s currently $1.38 per litre here in the Latrobe Valley and $1.18 in most capital cities. 

For me my plight is made harder by my health, my chronic arthritis will make studying all day and the long commute almost unbearable, not to mention my high levels of anxiety from PTSD. Going back to school will make my day to day reality a weary one, it will mean i will wake up, to travel large distances, so i can study all day, travel the long distance back home and then almost certainly collapse into bed.  I will get 3 days off each week and 2 weeks off every 10 weeks but for someone with my health conditions and exhaustive medication, returning to school under these circumstances is unreasonable, so why do i want to put myself through this kind of hell? The answer is simple money $$$ and online study is not an option for me. The cost of living is soaring in Australia while our wages are still stagnant from the GFC as such i cannot afford to live on a minimum wage, In today’s economic climate, i get more money including subsidies on the disability pension than a minimum wage worker gets in a year and that makes owning a home, almost impossible for minimum wage earning Australians. The only hope most Aussies have of buying their own home is winning the lotto or getting a considerable inheritance. Sadly i have no hope of inheritance so it is up to me, to find an alternative to buying a home if i do not want to be 60 and still renting. And so i find myself looking down the barrel of a David and Goliath battle between what I can reasonably accomplish and what i need to accomplish if i am going to provide for my future. My plan to work closely with my School, my therapist and health professionals over the next year to see me slide over the finish line graduated. 

So wish me luck and i’ll be sure to keep you posted on my happenings. 

The Joy Of Woodworking

One of my favorite things I love to do is woodwork. It’s not ideal for someone with chronic arthritis and projects take me a long time to complete, but I absolutely love it, so my joy makes the pain worth it. These are some of the projects I have completed in the past two years since I started meddling in woodwork. It requires a lot of sacrifices, patience, and creative thinking to get things done and work around my mobility issues but it is doable. Next on my hit list is 3 littler boxes for my cats, a large Cat condo to finish the last of my house projects, ie new legs on my table, refurbished bookcase and hall unit. Then I think I will be done for now except for the occasional project, but honestly, my arthritis is making it increasingly hard, even with my new meds. I have a lot of help and support though from Family and Friends so that makes it easier and even more enjoyable. 

It never ceases to amaze and inspire me when I walk out into my living room and see my beautiful furniture, I never thought I would own anything nice, because I couldn’t afford it, but the beauty of DIY is it’s cheap, everything you see cost me less than $50 a piece and not more than $50 to restore. I wouldn’t recommend this hobby for everyone but when I see my beautiful house, my joy is complete knowing I did this, and I did it without breaking the bank. It gives me comfort to know that whatever life throws at me, I can achieve great things with a little bit of patience and some creative thinking. 


Why The Relationship You Have With Your Doctor Is So Important!!!!

Recently i wrote a blog on Why we still need better health care and discussed a trip I made to the hospital in severe stomach pain with nausea and sweating. The local junior Doctor after reading my medical history decided that it was probably just anxiety, he didn’t ask me any questions or run any tests. But when I fought back he reminded me that he was the Doctor and I was not, so I reminded him, that I already have a Psychiatrist and this is not anxiety, but if he would like to call my Psychiatrist at 2am to debate my mental health with him, I could provide him with the number. It was at this point in the conversation that the junior doctor looked like he wanted to throw up and stormed off, within half an hour I was getting tests done and would you believe it, it wasn’t anxiety it was appengitis, a cousin and equally debilitating relative of appendicitis.

Sadly this wasn’t the first time or the last, that I would have to strongly suggest a hospital doctor debate their diagnosis with one of my treating specialists.  And that brings to me a very important point close to my heart. The relationship I have with my Doctors and why I consider them some of the most important relationships I will ever have in my life.  If you have read my blog post 15 Life Lessons From Living With Chronic Illness you will have seen a ted talk by Dr Lissa Rankin asking the question,  Is there scientific proof we can heal ourselves?  In the video Dr Rankin discusses the power of belief and how belief held strongly enough, can produce such large amounts of oxytocin and other healing chemicals from the brain that is has been known to cause ‘spontaneous remission’ of illnesses including cancer. She uses the example of religious belief but also the faith one patient had in their doctor she states in trials, patients who have been given a placebo by their doctor and then told it will cure them have been known to go into full remission as a result of the faith they have in their doctors ability to cure them. She also discusses how the power of positive thinking has been known to greatly assist in the healing process. Oncologists actively encourage cancer patients to try and remain positive and happy, because it greatly increases their chance of survival.

Now I’m not about to die of cancer and I’m not advocating drinking the kool-aid in the hope of a better life, but it does stress to me the importance of the faith and the trust I have in my treating phyicians. Now of course I am not about to put my faith blindly in anyone, just ask my psychiatrist and he will tell you – well probably not because of confidentiality and all that but if he could I know he would confidently tell you, Becky hates deceit and as such I put people through their paces before I trust them and that includes him. Now granted my Psychiatrist is fucking awesome and not just because his name is Katz and we all know how much I love my cats but because he genuinely knows his shit! For 2 years despite my then Rheumatologist sticking by the fibromyalgia diagnosis, my Psych kindly supported me while encouraging me to push back on my Rhuematolgist, My Psych knew me and he knew the pain and mobility issues were not in my head and were not simply psycho-somatic or stress-induced neuralgia and he repeatedly said “i think you have psoriatic arthritis” Finally my Rheumatologist snapped at me and said ” i think i know better than your psych and if he can’t fix your pain then i think you need to find a better one” It was that disrespect by my then Rheumatologist towards a Dr he knew nothing about that finally pushed me over the edge and without knowing where to find an alternative Rhem, i asked Dr Katz if he knew anybody. Dr Miller was a professor in Rheumatology and not just any Professor either she is one of the best in Australia. She did diagnose me with Psoriatic Arthritis, she put me on meds and sure enough, i am slowly recovering. Her comment about Dr Katz “he’s one of the best Doctors i have ever known, he might be a Psychiatrist but he could teach some Rheumatologists a thing or two” sadly she retired soon after but once again Dr Katz came to the rescue and referred me to his mothers Rheumatologist and Dr Franklyn is just as wonderful and skilled as Dr Miller ever was. Similarly, when my then Cardiologist diagnosed my tachycardia as a result of meds, Dr Katz knew better, he knew that my meds do not cause my kind of tachycardia and so once again he is referring me to a peer of his. When i was having menstrual issues and my local gyno suggested that ‘women change their minds all the time about wanting kids and contraception’ Dr Katz again referred me to one of his amazing peers who fixed my issues without any disrespect, or surgery. Whilst also respecting my decision to have surgery if symptoms continued. He understood my desire not to have children at my late age (35) or with my health concerns as does Dr Katz, never has he said to me as a psychiatrist “oh Becky I think you need to reevaluate that, or I think you’re overreacting, women needs kids” and don’t get me wrong, Dr Katz is no shrinking violet, he will put a patient in their place if they need it, he is direct and outspoken when necessary but in my case, he has only ever been respectful and understanding. Because of Dr Katz, I not only have a second chance at a reasonable life, and good mental health but i have an entire medical team of highly trained doctors fighting for me so I can have a better life and you better believe they would all go to bat for me if another doctor tried to undermine me or my quality of life. But It was Dr Katz who taught me to never accept anything less than the absolute best from my Doctors and if your Doctor isn’t good enough, find one who is, because as the L’Oreal ad says “you’re worth it”

And while I might not ever be in a life or death situation where my faith in Dr Katz or any of my other specialists could save my life, I am in situations every day where my confidence in all my doctors is tested but it’s because of my proven faith in them that I power through life’s challenges confident that despite the pain and discomfort I will succeed because I know my Doctors do have my back and that kind of confident positive thinking is powerful.