Carol Hocking, a mother of four, and a former nurse who suffered a workplace injury and who is unable to work, faces homelessness again, reports the Bendigo Advertiser.
Bendigo woman on the edge of homelessness again, courtesy of the workcover system
Mother of four Carol Hocking yesterday spent her birthday dreading she would again be homeless and living out of an unreliable car.
The years of celebrating her birthday have passed. Now, each birthday signals a rent increase – and this week, the cost became too high.
The 49-year-old now has three weeks to find a house or face homelessness.
Ms Hocking, a former nurse, suffered a workplace injury 25 years ago that left her unable to work.
She receives a weekly WorkCover benefit but fails to qualify for rent assistance or a health-care card.
Ms Hocking lives in constant pain thanks to two failed operations to repair prolapsed discs in her back.
She could receive a disability support pension, which would entitle her to public housing, a health-care card and rent assistance – but it wouldn’t cover her medication.
“I am not able to work because of my back,” Ms Hocking said. “I am waiting for a medical miracle.
“I have trained myself to walk unaided. After the two unsuccessful surgeries, I was in and out of hospital for different reasons.
“There have been ups and downs and it has evolved into a mental health scenario and I am on medication. It was described as manic depression.
“That was the last straw with my family. That was when I left.” Ms Hocking’s marriage ended about two-and-a-half years ago. She blamed the separation on her becoming too reliant on her husband. Her daughters are aged from 17 to 27. The youngest two live with their father.
“I would love to have my girls with me but it is just not financially viable,” Ms Hocking said. “I cannot afford to keep them and feed them.”
Leaving the family home proved an eye-opening experience for a woman who had never rented a house. She had married young and the couple had a mortgage.
The reality of Bendigo’s rental market – which has a less than one per cent vacancy rate – soon hit home.
“I left my family home on the 7th of January, 2010,” Ms Hocking said.
“I went all over the place. It was a week here and then a week there until there was nobody left.
We know exactly what this poor woman is going through and we feel so utterly powerless… Our thoughts are with you.