Tributes at the Surfers Paradise beach where a baby was found dead. (AAP image, John Gass)
Tributes at the Surfers Paradise beach where a baby was found dead. (AAP image, John Gass)

How do we find a road home for the homeless?

A NINE-month-old girl found dead on a beach. What hope is there for the homeless? Does Surfers Paradise have a heart?

You'd be surprised. There are countless success stories of survival.

Here is one from May last year.

A young couple arrive at the St John's Crisis Centre seeking help from Reverend Jon Brook and his volunteers. They're among the hundred.

The couple know if they continue to sleep in their car, police will take their child. They turn up each day, take a hot shower, eat a meal and are connected with the Gold Coast Homeless Hub to help find accommodation.

"They now live in Miami and have a beautiful baby boy," Rev Brook told me.

Surfers Paradise Anglican church priest and crisis centre manager Jon Brook.  Photo by Richard Gosling
Surfers Paradise Anglican church priest and crisis centre manager Jon Brook. Photo by Richard Gosling

The nine-month-old baby girl found dead on the beach this week was helped too. Her mother was carrying her when volunteers offered meals at Broadbeach's Cascade Gardens.

An internal inquiry and coronial inquest will shed light on any breakdowns in the system.

Police, child safety services workers and volunteers, they're all exhausted.

Watch police and paramedics. They are consistently respectful when transporting the homeless, acutely aware of how mental illness, domestic violence or a natural disaster can force someone to live in a car.

A key question is whether police made a temporary assessment order to remove the baby from the parents and if not, why.

The former Gold Coast home of the nine-month-old baby girl found dead in the surf at Surfers Paradise.
The former Gold Coast home of the nine-month-old baby girl found dead in the surf at Surfers Paradise.

A welfare worker with decades of experience says it is extremely rare to find a nine-month-old stay long on the streets.

Did Child Safety Services sign off on a parental agreement? Why was the baby, after being collected by police and the department notified, allowed to return to live rough with the parents?

Were further checks made on the child and if so, how?

A police source, highlighting the absurdity of this, said: "Was it a case of just going to the third tree down there on the left to check?"

Is Child Safety Services, when dealing with certain families, taking a "reunification at all cost" policy?

Sydney Hamilton park at Surfers Paradise, where a homeless couple and their child lived.. picture Glenn Hampson
Sydney Hamilton park at Surfers Paradise, where a homeless couple and their child lived.. picture Glenn Hampson

But back to St John's, a charity which relies on sponsors and supporters like Oz Harvest and your donations, made outside supermarkets at their Bin a Tins.

Here is another case it has handled. A former sheet metal worker had been on his bike when hit by a car. His right hand was almost severed. Recovery was a mix of speed, marijuana and methamphetamine.

After three weeks of living in his car, he stumbled on St John's. A housing case manager got him a bed at Nerang.

Twelve months on, the Housing Department offered a one-bedroom unit at Beenleigh, health workers at Burleigh assisted with a detox program. A housing manager tracked down a financial planner.

Three months ago a letter arrived at St John's.

"I'm proud to say I have been clean and sober for 21 months now," the former tradie wrote.

"I'm setting up a plant nursery receiving income for two days a week and I'm about to start my diploma in community services to become a drug and alcohol counsellor.

"I've embarked on a new career path and now see a bright future ahead for me. I know I still have a long way to go and I still have ups and down - I thank you all sincerely."

The baby's death reminds us that we're a village, aren't we, raising the child. All those involved, all of us, are asking questions about taking responsibility.

We can rebuild by remembering the small efforts, the tiny steps that led to big past success stories.



Wide Bay/Burnett nursing home among audit's alarming finds

premium_icon Wide Bay/Burnett nursing home among audit's alarming finds

Residents at 16 facilities found to be at 'serious risk'

Bundy Rum takes unique experience on the road

premium_icon Bundy Rum takes unique experience on the road

Innovative concept to be offered in Brisbane

Anti-card activist asked to back up campaign claims

premium_icon Anti-card activist asked to back up campaign claims

She started a petition that has more than 3000 signatures.