The Lighthouse Youth Intitiative – Sometimes What is Hidden is an Answer

Homelessness is a colossal issue. This is a story about a solution.

When it comes to homelessness, most of us have no idea what to do about it. Sure, sometimes I might drop some money in the lap of one of those guys sitting in the tunnels of Sydney’s train network, but even that usually just makes me feel uncomfortable and (quite frankly) glad that it’s not me sitting there.

It’s an overwhelming issue to think about, and small wonder: on any given night, 1 in 200 people are homeless! Currently, 25% of these are youth between the ages of 12 and 24.

“In Wollongong, the homelessness rate is rising to meet the unemployment rate, and there are very few more services than there were a couple of years ago.” Says Robert Powell, project manager for Churches Housing.

And things are starting to look even grimmer: according to Powell, with a depletion of government coffers comes a withdrawal of financial support. So the crisis rates are rising, the money is dwindling and the jobs are disappearing. Great. Where is the answer in all of this? It seems that all we hear on the topic are cries for help. Just Google it and thousands of sob-stories will come up. It seems that any hopes for these people are buried beneath doomsday talk and the flailing attempts of those crippled by their own sense of compassion.

Cue the Lighthouse Youth Initiative. It may not be solving the whole problem, but it is perhaps part of some kind of answer.

“Lighthouse Youth Housing supports, develops and empowers young people to break the cycle of homelessness.”

With what they call a more ‘holistic’ approach, Lighthouse differs from other organisations in that it seeks to engage the youth with a community and retrain them in both ordinary life skills and in living more productive, healthy lifestyles. Their rigorous schedules include compulsory early morning sessions with a personal trainer and volunteer work through the church.

“When they help out at stuff like the soup kitchen it really reinforces the idea that even though they (often) have so little, they actually do matter, and they have a lot that they can give back to the community in order to help others.” – Grant Lowe, Lighthouse Youth Initiative Manager.

The residents themselves rave about the place, boasting about the life-changing relationships with the staff and the incredible change that they have seen in themselves.

“I’m heaps more hygienic now so, you know, I find it heaps easier to make friends. And my friends keep saying they can’t believe how different I am!” – a current resident.

If you or anyone you know are in need of affordable housing please don’t hesitate to contact someone:

http://adifferentlight.com.au/

http://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/subjects/accommodation-renting-and-homelessness

http://www.redcross.org.au/homelessness.aspx

Or if you’d like some more information on the topic:

http://www.homelessnessnsw.org.au/images/stories/documents/Factsheets/Homeless_Persons_Week_information_for_Illawarra_Shoalhaven_District.pdf

https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/prod/parlment/committee.nsf/0/78360C7CC2AE7EFCCA25751400150094

This Job Isn’t Big Enough for the 5000 of Us

‘Bursting at the seams’ source: sunmotors.co.uk

Universities across the country are bursting at the seams with more than double the amount of journalism enrolments than 10 years ago. Simultaneously, traditional newsrooms are rapidly shrinking, journalist staff are being cut left right and centre and money is all but gone. Needless to say journalism is going through a bit of a rough patch.

For Max Pasalic, studying Journalism at UOW, hopes of breaking into the industry are all but lost, “only people with an amazing work ethic will get in…In my own opinion, I just don’t have that, I can’t compete.” Music journalism is the career that appeals most to him, and even amidst the changing world of journalism he remains very positive, reasoning that music is so unifying and important, something that people will always want to hear about. When it comes to the death of the newspaper and the rise of digital forms of media, he loves the fast pace and visual excitement of online news as opposed to the static nature of print.

Some students however are less than excited about this shift. Alison Miller, studying Journalism and Arts, “I feel a bit daunted by the way technological advances are affecting the nature of journalism, particularly the move from print to online journalism. I definitely prefer print, and am generally not too technologically savvy,” Journalists will need to be more on the ball then ever Alison says, an increase in technology and social media means that there should be an increase in professional journalism, they should be ready to meet changing audience demands. Despite her fears she remains positive about her goals of becoming a media manager for a business, NGO or sports company. “It will obviously be a lot of hard work- jobs are scarce in the industry. But hard work, persistence, and being willing to do the not-so-glamorous jobs to get where you want to go will probably get you there in the end.”

On the other hand, students like Katherine Lewis (studying Media Communications and Arts at UOW) have absolutely no intention of entering the field of journalism and even describes her reasons for choosing the course as ‘silly’. However, she has found herself caught up in some of the issues surrounding the field. “Journalism in the future will look like a twitter feed, constantly updating and changing with each story that breaks, stories will be shorter because the attention spans of the reader are getting smaller.” “The news is there to inform and tell a story it should not rely on minimal words and photos to tell the story, which is where I feel like journalism is headed.” Of course, lucky Katherine has no worries that the issues with digital media and citizen journalists will get in the way of her career choice in marketing; they could in fact just be an enhancement.

All students seemed to agree that there is a problem in the fact that online forms of news seem to eliminate paid professionals. Anyone can now be a journalist, anyone can be published and it is hard to put trust in these people. There is a hole in the market for reliable online sources, people who have gone through stringent processes, people who are employed to write quality, researched journalism. So perhaps there is hope for the future yet?

Claire – Lost in Translation

Like any good tourist, Claire has pictures at the ready to back up her adventures

Imagine you have been driving for hours and hours on end, across vast flat grasslands as far as the eye can see. The windows are down, the sun is shining, you are completely and utterly lost. It’s the perfect day.

Vivacious and hilarious young student Claire loves to travel, especially in her home country of China, although with high adventure comes high risk.  For some people the idea of venturing out into uncharted, unpopulated and frankly unsafe rural China is a little extreme. But for Claire it’s a way of living, a way of strengthening her family ties, a way to have adventures. Has she ever got lost on one of these trips? “Oh yeah usually, it’s really fun!”

On a recent expedition to a tiny lake nestled in between China and Mongolia, Claire and her family were lost for the whole day until they finally found a way home, but not before having a few strange encounters. The Lake Buir is amongst the Buir grasslands, a sparsely populated at the top of China . According to her, the ‘meadow’ as she calls it is “more large than Wollongong to Sydney two times!”. It is incredibly easy to get lost or stranded there – “You drive half an hour to find a road sign and sometimes they is very good but sometimes it might just be a little mark. If you miss one you’re totally lost. We got lost.”
After driving for two more hours through endless plains with not another soul in sight, the family decided to stop, take a break and then turn back to look for the invisible signpost they missed. And that’s when they spotted the wolf.
“We were all frozen inside my car!” says Claire, getting excited. Her father was a hunter in his youth before the gun laws were changed in China. “If he says that is a wolf, that is a wolf!” The family spent 20 minutes of petrified silence in the car until Claire finally spotted some people in the distance. These people happened to be one of the traditional gypsy-like tribes that wander the grasslands with a train of small wagons pulled by horses, singing to each other to communicate. Turns out the wolf was their pet dog. “We were so lucky, you can be out there for three days and no people!”
The family asked these wandering nomads for directions and finally made it to the lake. Claire recalls her amazement at the beauty of the place, ‘the white clouds of candy that were upon us’ and the millions of gulls covering the water, even though the lake is thousands of kilometres from the sea.

Claire travels through life in high spirits, carried along by her good humour and sense of adventure. Lost for hours, travelling with no map in a land where “the roads change every time it rains”, attacked by a wolf, rescued by an elusive group of travelling gypsies and finding a lake where the clouds are made of candy.

It was the best holiday she has ever had

 

The Attack of the Aggregators

Aggregation is such a necessary part of the internet, with the overwhelmingly huge amount of information out there there is definitely a need for a person or system that can collect the information that is most relevant. But the problem is that the line between aggregation and good ol’ theft is so skinny (or non-existent as some might say).

I could link the heck out of this sentence, I could use official looking pictures like this… and this… or this… and make this post look nice and professional. But here it is: I checked none of those links for reliability and I attributed all of it to no one but myself. I’m sorry to say that I just stole all of that. And this is increasingly common all across the internet, anyone can collate information from the huge variety of stories and serve it to a niche market, I’m doing it now. Some believe that it can be done ethically and so add value to your work, others see a danger in relying on the internet for information – typing stuff into a search engine is not reporting.

I feel it my duty here to admit my own embarrassing addiction to sites such as Buzzfeed and Huffington Post. With circulation of over 40 million people daily it’s quite obvious that these giants of aggregation are here to stay, at least for a while.

But with so much aggregating going on and the decline of paid journalists we have to ask ourselves, where is the information coming from? No one seems to be paying for it so there is no money for collecting first hand, original information. Are we just playing a giant game of journalistic Chinese Whispers? Will we find ourselves sucked into an eternal vortex of aggregated aggregation aggregating the aggregated sources? Does that sentence even make sense? I don’t know any more.

Comment down below, I would love to hear your thoughts on aggregating news stories, is it theft? Is there still a place for good journalism?

 

Show Me the Money!

show me the money gif Imgur Jerry Maguire Tom Cruise

Newspapers are dying. Sad but true. Even as we speak newsrooms are shrinking, jobs are being cut etc. etc. And yet reading of the news has ‘gone viral’ like never before. With the advent of online news sources has come an even greater appetite for current affairs and ‘trending’ stories. The problem I’m thinking of is not that journalism is a dying industry, it’s clearly not. The issue is money. Cash, bucks, mulah, whatever you want to call it.

Newspapers hit their peak in the 80’s, and the money generated from advertising was phenomenal. Up until recently, a paper such as the Sydney Morning Herald would sell full page classifieds for around $40, 000, which to be frank is a poo load of money. Most newspapers are funded by ads and stock-market quotations (really riveting stuff). Of course this is useless now, why wait to pay for the information when it can be found instantly and for free online? Readership may be off the roof but money is not. The money that fuelled quality journalism during the last century has gone, and what we are left with is huge media companies with copious amounts of fantastic journalistic resources and no way of paying for it. It sucks.

Unfortunately, simply making newspapers available online does not even come close to covering the amount originally made by newspapers. As Eric Beecher so nicely puts it: Kim Williams is right when he talks about the shiny new business models in digital media, but what he fails to explain is that these are shiny new yachts compared with the ocean liners that the world’s great newspapers once were.

The problem is that good journalism and newspapers have become so tightly intertwined – with the fall of the newspaper comes the inevitable fall of quality journalism. Who knows, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that perhaps people actually do want to read stuff they can trust, material that is brilliantly written and original, but sadly it’s just too darn expensive!

Does this upset anyone else? Or does anyone have any brilliant ideas to save journalism? Feel free to comment below, I would love to hear from you.

Katherine

'They just got too bitchy'

‘They just got too bitchy’

Katherine was a competitive skier, that is until the other competitors ‘just got too bitchy’.

When she first started skiing at a young age it was all fun and games, but as the level of skill grew, so did the backstabbing and manipulation of the other girls. “It just got really lonely, it wasn’t fun any more so I had to quit.”

Katherine has since taken up studying the media at University. She is unsure of what she wants to do in the future but is excited by the huge range of possibilities uni has to offer.

When stressed at uni, Katherine finds that she relaxes anywhere that is outdoors.

The Lounge

Just another day at Uni

This group of people were certainly attracting the stares of passers by as they carried their lounge like a majestic royal litter through the middle of the main walkways. Random things happen at university. A group of people carrying a couch around for ages without actually putting it down? Why not?

But that’s just the beauty of uni life. One early morning you may arrive to a practically empty shell of a place, but then two hours later step out of a lecture to find that the whole place has magically turned into a thriving marketplace, complete with stalls and teeming crowds.

Where these couch-people were going, what they were doing, I know not, but I do know that the spontaneous randomness of it all certainly added more enjoyment to my day.