News Story

Control and choice in uncertain times

by Chaplain Ross Jones


Have you ever wondered if the events in your life are as guaranteed and predictable as you would like them to be?

On her third attempt at trying, my daughter (who lives in Brisbane) finally managed to come and meet with her WA-based family for the first time in eighteen months. Even then, due to COVID-19 restrictions, she had to endure three days of lockdown in my home. If she had left on the Wednesday she would have been able to go straight to her home, but because she left on the Thursday she was required to enter hotel quarantine.

My daughter shared how a fellow traveller, who had been in Perth briefly for business and who had a letter of exemption because she had a child at home, still had to go into quarantine. The police picked her child up from their Gold Coast home to join her in quarantine. Even though she had a letter of exemption, the police did not have the same notice on their system.

This COVID-19 time has been a real challenge to our concept of choice, freedom, safety and security. Our idea of how predictable and certain life really is has certainly been questioned. For here was a group of travellers who found that their choice and determination of freedom was curtailed due to community health necessitated requirements.

Here is a window of understanding into the lives of St Bart’s residents and clients. Sometimes we wonder how people could ever come to experience the trauma of homelessness –  simply because we haven’t. We have made choices and have had control of our lives. And yet my daughter, who is very comfortably settled into middle class life with a well-paid professional job, and who is very capable of making healthy choices, found that circumstances beyond her control dictated her life’s situation in a moment. It was the very opposite of what she wanted. What she wanted was to be home to attend to her three dogs and husband. To be at her husband’s grandmother’s funeral.

St Bart’s residents and clients are people who have had their life’s circumstances controlling the outcomes of their lives, most often beyond what they would choose or desire. It is our job to assist them through these challenging times to come to a place of choice and control that will bring a sense of peace, stability, happiness and fulfilment to their lives.

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