Adelaide Zero Project meets monthly housing milestone

Despite the enormous challenges of COVID-19, Adelaide’s homelessness rate is going down with more people housed than coming into rough sleeping each month since June. In July, the Adelaide Zero Project housed 72 people – its highest ever housing rate in a month; previously, the housing rate sat at a median of 12 people before the pandemic.

The Adelaide Zero Project’s monthly housing rate has steadily increased since May – largely due to the collaborative COVID-19 emergency accommodation response for people sleeping rough, which has been led by SA Housing Authority, Neami National, Hutt St Centre, Baptist Care SA and other project partners, in conjunction with the project’s backbone organisation, the Don Dunstan Foundation.

Adelaide Zero Project Co-Chair Louise Miller Frost said the new data was a ‘big step’ towards the project’s target.

“We are seeing an average of 33 people per month entering rough sleeping, so if we can keep up the momentum of housing over 70 people per month we will make real strides towards our target,” Ms Miller Frost said.

“This includes people who are sleeping rough in the city, or who have since moved into temporary shelter – we can then know these people’s names and needs and eventually connect them to support and accommodation.

“The Adelaide Zero Project has shown during COVID-19 that it is possible to coordinate housing and support for people sleeping rough faster than ever before, especially when we all work together.

Louise Miller Frost, Co Chair, Adelaide Zero Project

“Using our collaborative approach, with not for profit services and housing providers working together with SA Housing Authority to secure long-term housing and support for those who had been sleeping rough.

“While we celebrate this milestone now, we are concerned there may be an increase in homelessness in the coming months, as the impacts of COVID-19 and the recession continue to be felt across the community.

“Adelaide Zero Project’s By-Name List and our collaborative approach put us in an ideal position to monitor any increases in rough sleeping in the city and respond both quickly and collectively,” said Ms Miller Frost.

“To successfully help so many people off the street and into a longer-term home is an outstanding achievement,” said the Hon. Michelle Lensink MLC, Minister for Human Services.

“This really shows what can be achieved when the sector works together to achieve a common goal and a lot of hard work has made this outcome possible.

“To continue to achieve these positives outcomes for South Australians, we need to make sure that all parts of the homelessness system are continuing to work together, and this is central to the reforms we are undertaking at the moment,“ said Minister Lensink.

Although 468 people have been housed across the project’s lifetime, there are currently 218 people actively homeless in Adelaide’s inner city, including 117 people sleeping rough.

Congratulations Baroness Louise Casey!

Baroness Louise Casey

Written by Edward McLeish

Queen Elizabeth II has elevated 2017 Don Dunstan Orator Dame Louise Casey to the title of Baroness.

Baroness Louise Casey has been a driving force in ending homelessness and has developed a number of bespoke social policy programmes governments have used globally.

Aside from being an annual Don Dunstan Orator in 2017, Bss Casey challenged the city of Adelaide to solve its homelessness problem – a challenge giving birth to the Don Dunstan Foundation’s Adelaide Zero Project.

Some of Bss Casey’s UK achievements include becoming director of Shelter (1992), head of the Rough Sleepers’ Unit (1999), a director of the Anti-Social Behavioural Unit (2003), head of the Respect Task Force (2005), was the UK’s first Victims Commissioner in 2010 and the director-general of Troubled Families in 2011. In February this year, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson appointed Bss Casey as an adviser to help tackle homelessness.

Bss Casey has consistently delivered brave and innovative solutions to long standing social problems ranging from homelessness to anti-social behaviour to troubled families.

And throughout her illustrious career, Bss Casey has maintained her commitment to the charity sector and has been a driving force in the establishment of the Institute for Global Homelessness (which works with the Adelaide Zero Project), with the aim of delivering an international solution to homelessness across the world.

Previously, Bss Casey was awarded the Companion of the Order of Bath (CB) in the Queen’s birthday honours list, 2008 and made Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the Queen’s birthday honours list, 2016.

The Don Dunstan Foundation congratulates Baroness Louise Carey for her promotion, her leadership and her stellar achievements in reducing homelessness.

SA’s creative thinkers stick together amid pandemic.

Written by Edward McLeish

Socially, culturally, politically and economically, it’s been a tough time for South Australia’s arts industry.

But the state’s COVID-free circumstances would place it better against other states’ creative sectors as it sings, dances, paints and plays its way out of a pandemic.

That’s according to a panel headlined by the Don Dunstan Foundation’s (DDF) first Thinker in Residence Martin Elbourne – as he joined the who’s who of SA’s arts industry for a webinar discussing the pandemic’s impacts on cultural institutions.

Adelaide Fringe CEO and Artistic Director Heather Croall facilitated the discussion – which featured Mr Elbourne, Adelaide UNESCO City of Music Director Beck Pearce, Adelaide Festival Artistic Director Rachel Healy and Art Gallery of South Australia Director Rhana Devenport.

Miss Pearce said the coronavirus had a ‘huge impact’ on creative industries – especially in the form of live music.

‘The main challenges were the restrictions to venues and music businesses,’ she said.

‘In terms of capacities and the ability to present live music, live performances have been hugely impacted.

‘The SA music industry contributes over $375 million – it’s a huge contributor to the economy.’

Attracting audiences to venues to dance to and interpret music has gone to a standstill; the inability for the tourism industry to thrive and lure local audiences to venues has dented SA’s economy.

So SA’s music industry and its crusading musicians face sustainability issues as they are constrained to paths of innovation, according to Miss Pearce.

‘Some musicians implement income via hospitality and teaching, which are industries that have also been impacted,’ she said.

Ms Healy said international workers were a big part of the Adelaide Festival; historically, the festival had attracted companies of up to 100 artists from around the world.

‘It’s a time-limited international arts festival – and in the middle of a pandemic, there are issues in programming,’ she said.

‘We’re seeing a bit of work locked in for the 2021 festival, but the majority of work for 2022; what we can’t fit in 2021 will impact how we program our ‘22 and ’23 years.’

Some of the other issues Ms Healy raised included getting visas for international artists through border control, an unwillingness for artists to travel and quarantine, agencies unwilling to offer insurance for incoming artists, the artists’ running costs mid and post-quarantine, and mental health issues.

‘Bureaucracy and anxiety are the main challenges for artists,’ she said.

‘You have to commit to taking one step at a time and keep going until someone tells you that you can’t keep going; everyone globally is in the same boat.

‘Most arts workers are trying to figure out a situation where they’re not sleeping out of their car.’

Ms Devenport said while the visual artists were doing it tough, it didn’t compare to live performers.

‘I really feel for the live arts; the nature of the live art form is about people being together,’ she said.

‘Without artists, everything disappears.’

To support some struggling visual artists, the Art Gallery of South Australia provided six $10,000 bursaries for artists – not something galleries typically do.

But Ms Devenport said the gallery’s annual appeal had more support than ever.

‘We’ve had lots of people deeply concerned about artists,’ she said.

Although community funding was pleasing for the gallery, Ms Devenport hoped there would be more financial support from the government for Australia’s creative industries.

‘In the UK, The Arts contributes seven per cent to its gross domestic product (GDP), and gets one per cent of government support, whereas Australia’s creative industries contribute 6.4 per cent to its GDP and only gets 0.25 per cent of support,’ she said.

While pandemic-specific challenges have impacted the arts industry, the COVID-19 crisis has provided opportunities for innovation among artists.

Mr Elbourne – who joined the webinar from The UK – has ensured successes in the music industry: booking artists at Glastonbury, co-founding WOMAD Festival and promoting festivals globally.

As the DDF’s first Thinker in Residence (2013), Mr Elbourne has evolved SA’s music industry; he said the residency inspired his career’s path over the past seven years.

One of the recommendations he made in the position was bringing the UNESCO City of Music office to Adelaide – currently headed by Miss Pearce.

Mr Elbourne said there opportunities to thrive included utilising its warm climate and rethinking the positioning of night clubs.

‘We might see the end of Hindley St – that’s the worst street in Australia and it ought to be the best street in Adelaide,’ he said.

‘What I’d like to see is large indoor night clubs moved to the outskirts of the city rather than the CBD – like Amsterdam and its super clubs.

‘The last thing opening up will be those night clubs, when people are at an indoors venue and singing and talking loudly – that’s a big no-no for quite some time.

‘But Adelaide’s climate means even in winter, you can go out and do things.’

Ms Healy said her team had been excited by opportunities for more outdoor festivals.

‘There’s always interesting opportunities to create works in non-traditional spaces that will be safer and create an event opportunity,’ she said.

Other ideas Ms Healy thought would bring masses together in a safe way included drive-in concerts, Perspex barriers separating seats in theatres, contract tracing and patron temperature checks.

Ms Croall said transitioning to digital opportunities (including Zoom plays, livestreaming and NEO Online) would meet the needs of some people unable to attend events for health reasons.

‘We’ve found ways to integrate innovations that we’ve got to roll out in the future,’ she said.

Miss Pearce said online platforms for a concert series would ‘break down accessibility barriers’.

‘It’s an opportunity to develop audiences over time,’ she said.

When it came to whether SA was better or worse placed than other states and countries, Ms Devenport said we were better placed as the majority of our industry’s audiences are local.

‘Last year, we had around a million visitors in a town of 1.3 million,’ she said.

Ms Croall said punters within the SA bubble have an opportunity to “crack in” to save the arts industry.  

‘In other galleries, 70 per cent of tickets come from out of town,’ she said.

“At the Adelaide Fringe this year, we sold 850k tickets, and although there were 30,000 tourists, nearly a million tickets sold with most of them local.’

Moving forward, the panel agreed more government funding to The Arts in SA was vital in its revival, and there was an important story to be told about what creative sectors provide households.

For example, Miss Pearce said music was key for many areas of learning.

“Music teaches literacy, social cohesion, empathy and many other things; music makes society better people and there’s a really important story to be told,’ she said.

Don Dunstan Executive Director Ritchie Hollands closed the webinar by quoting Don Dunstan:

The arts are an all-pervading part of our everyday lives. They intrude on us without our realising it, so subtle is their influence and so unrecognised their presence.

The DDF hosts Art For Good, harnessing opportunities in the arts for South Australians.

This includes the South Australian Living Artists (SALA) Award and the Our Mob Emerging Artist Award.

Previous initiatives have included the Social Change Guide, which offers an overview of Adelaide Fringe Festival events with a social change theme, and the Dunstan Film Club, a quarterly movie event with a strong social justice message at its core.

SA’s food charities unite to discuss COVID-19 impacts

Written by Edward McLeish

South Australian food security’s biggest problem is not abundance but supply chain incompetence.

A constrained food supply chain – a challenge starkly exposed during the wave of pandemic panic buying that swept South Australia – and poor perceptions surrounding food security were the hottest menu items during last Friday’s Don Dunstan Foundation webinar: How To Foster Food Security in Uncertain Times.

Meals on Wheels Australia President Sharyn Broer, Food South Australia Chief Executive Catherine Sayer and Foodbank SA Chief Executive Greg Pattinson joined forces to talk about how their organisations were handling the COVID-19 climate. 

Mrs Broer said there had been a dramatic upsurge across Australia in demand for Meals on Wheels’ services. Not just from their traditional customers but also those who had previously been financially stable. 

‘There were around two and a half times more people saying ‘I think I need Meals on Wheels’ in March,’ Mrs Broer said. 

‘The tipping point was from the elderly who were independent; restaurants and cafes for those social meal activity settings were closed, so older people were challenged by the supermarket shelves.’

Mrs Broer said those who had income to fill out pantries couldn’t as food rationing was not implemented – and initially, online food shopping options were just as scarce. 

‘We were able to get an extra 400 meals a day going out to support people, but with 76,000 Meals on Wheels people nationally, and half of them over 70, there was a huge increase in demand and a sudden depletion in the workforce,’ she said. 

Food SA’s Catherine Sayer denied the state has, or had, a food security problem. 

‘We’ve got 26 million in Australia and there’s enough food for 75 million; it’s not a food security problem – the issue is the supply chain,’ Ms Sayer said. 

‘In SA, if the borders all closed, we could still feed ourselves many times over.’

Ms Sayer explained panic buying broke the supply chain. 

‘If everyone was just behaving normally, the supply chain wouldn’t break; we can manage this situation,’ she said. 

‘This is where I commend Greg Pattinson and Foodbank SA, where they organised a big food drive.’

Foodbank SA’s food drive in May – which focussed on the economically-impacted victims of the coronavirus – allowed panic buyers to drop off the items they overbought at Foodbank’s Edwardstown headquarters for those in need.

Mr Pattinson agreed the major strains on Australia’s food supply related to transport and distribution, but said South Aussies were better placed than others hit by the coronavirus. 

‘The other states relied on the charity sector to pass on food to clients,’ he said. 

‘During COVID, all those charities interstate closed; In WA, they couldn’t get food out to people.’

Foodbank SA has a growing number of food hubs to help the food-insecure shop for themselves, which Mr Pattinson said, like Meals on Wheels, is a more ‘dignified, customer-based’ method.

‘People can come and shop for themselves rather than getting a hamper, and having that choice helps people’s mental health,’ he said. 

According to Mr Pattinson, there is a stigma around people seeing if they qualify for food insecurity services.

‘We’ve heard stories of people walking around the front of our hubs for two days before plucking up the courage to ask for help; it is a mentally challenging environment,’ he said. 

‘There’s still lots of areas in SA with no charities to support and there are high unemployment rates in these country towns. We need to address the food needs of people in those small communities. 

‘Don’t be afraid to ask for help.’

Did you miss out on the How to Foster Food Security in Uncertain Times webinar? You can watch the replay.

The Don Dunstan Foundation will present another web seminar: How to sing, dance, paint and play our way out of COVID-19 on Wednesday July 15. Tickets here.

DDF intern makes a difference!

Interview by Anthony Collebrusco

Jacqueline Anderson is about to finish her final semester at the University of Adelaide, earning a double degree in International Relations and Arts with a major in sociology and minor in international development.

The COVID-19 era is an unusual time to be a university student. In addition to regular assignments, she is writing 2000 words per week for tutorial participation. She is completing an advanced research capstone for her sociology major by studying policy related to school feeding programs that could be implemented in South Australia. On top of that, all work has been fully remote this semester.

And if that weren’t enough, she is also doing essential work for Neami National as part of the Adelaide Zero Project (AZP), helping account for and house the increasing number of people experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 era.

Neami National is a Foundation partner and acts as the data custodian for the AZP. Jacqueline is currently employed with Neami as an Operational Support Officer and initially got involved with them by applying for an internship with the Don Dunstan Foundation. For her, it was the legacy of Don Dunstan and the work of the Foundation that led her to apply.

“I’ve known about Don Dunstan my entire life. My family has been enormous fans of him and his legacy, especially in the arts. I didn’t have enormous knowledge of the Adelaide Zero Project, but I knew I couldn’t pass over work with the Don Dunstan Foundation and having that as a learning experience.”

When she first started on AZP, Jacqueline was tasked with data management of the By-Name List, the AZP’s tool for tracking active homelessness in Adelaide.

When an individual is identified as experiencing homelessness, they fill out a survey detailing where and for how long they have been sleeping rough as well as information about their mental and physical health. They are then scored on a complexity scale, which informs their housing needs and support systems to ensure successful tenancy.

Jacqueline is responsible for recording this information as well as participating in housing allocation meetings to help find suitable housing solutions for these individuals.

“People fill out surveys, which I then input into the system. Then, every time they are seen on our outreach rounds, I get a note of that and record what they’re doing, how they’re going, and we build a profile on this person. We are able to use that to look at the overall complexity of our clients and find the most appropriate housing for them.”

This information is invaluable for the AZP’s work, and since it tracks information related to mental health and use of emergency services, it is increasingly relevant to political leaders seeking to resolve the challenge of rough sleeping in Adelaide – a challenge exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis.

The number of actively homeless in Adelaide has increased from 201 in March 2020 to over 350 in April 2020, making outreach and data management more difficult.

“It’s really hard to have contact with everyone when your clients have increased dramatically,” says Anderson. “The team and I are actively working on ways to adapt the data to these changes.”

Despite the challenges, Jacqueline has been impressed with case workers’ ability to maintain constant communication with their clients and the effort to ensure that as many people as possible are housed.

“For us to adapt to getting so many new consumers, it has been stressful, especially for caseworkers. But I think that the passion of ensuring that everyone was safe really united all the AZP agencies.”

This collaborative effort has helped ensure that vulnerable people were supported faster and that many of the people on the By-Name List were temporarily sheltered during the COVID-19 crisis. As the highly dynamic situation begins to settle, Anderson is eager to see the data develop in the coming months, gain better understanding of the impact of AZP’s COVID-19 response and how it may inform future success of the AZP.

Anderson encourages students preparing for an internship to be ready to dive into a project fully. Try to shadow your supervisor, go to meetings, and learn the ins and outs of your work as much as possible. She says, “The benefits of what you can learn will outweigh any fears you may have.”

“Interning for Don Dunstan was one of the best decisions I made. Having the opportunity to work for something that I was incredibly passionate about, while also gaining skills that would increase my employability, resulted in me actually being employed in a position that I would want to do as a career.

“Things can happen that you don’t expect, and it really turned out to be the best possible situation for me.”

Jacqueline Anderson plans to continue her role in not-for-profits and someday hopes to pursue a graduate program.

How To Foster Food Security in Uncertain Times

Is there enough food in SA for everyone? Our next Thinker in Residence will focus on food security and in preparation for this, we held a digital event to discuss the effects of COVID-19.

This webinar featured leaders from South Australia’s food relief, education and industry sector.

Facilitator: Professor Rachel Ankeny, School of Humanities, University of Adelaide

Speakers:

Watch webinar.


Presented by the Don Dunstan Foundation and Stretton Institute. Thank you to our event Sponsor Meals on Wheels SA and Department of Human Services. Thanks to Foundation major partners University of Adelaide and Flinders University.

Dr Jane Lomax-Smith AM appointed as new Chair of the Don Dunstan Foundation

Dr Jane Lomax-Smith

Dr Jane Lomax-Smith AM has been appointed Chair of the Don Dunstan Foundation.

The Foundation was established 20 years ago and brings together research, policy makers and community groups to respond to social needs in South Australia through public events, collaborative projects and research. Supported by the University of Adelaide and Flinders University, the organisation builds on the legacy of the late Don Dunstan, who was first elected as Premier of South Australia 50 years ago this week.

Jane follows the highly successful period of leadership by the Hon. Rev. Dr Lynn Arnold AO, who has completed his term as Chair but remains on the Board.

Executive Director of the Foundation, Ritchie Hollands, said “Lynn’s leadership over the past ten years has been tremendous, and has seen both the breadth and depth of the Foundation’s influence grow significantly.

“We are thrilled to have Jane driving our thought leadership and social justice agendas – both now in these uncertain COVID-19 times, and beyond,” Ritchie said.

Jane is a consultant pathologist who has been involved in public life through local and state government for over 20 years. She has been an Adelaide City Councillor, Lord Mayor of Adelaide, a member of the House of Assembly and a State Minister for Education and Tourism. Jane has held several Board positions and has most recently been the Chair of the Board of the South Australian Museum and Presiding Member of the Teachers Registration Board SA.

Jane said her migration as a young professional from London to South Australia was inspired by Don Dunstan’s progressive agenda and international reputation.

“I feel fortunate to have known him in the last twenty years of his life and was honoured to have been on the Foundation’s Inaugural Board.

“It will be a privilege now, to promote Don’s legacy by serving as Chair of the Board, and I look forward to supporting social and economic innovation through the Foundation,” she said.

How to help our partners

Written by Anthony Collebrusco

During this challenging climate, our thoughts are with the partners of the Don Dunstan Foundation’s major projects.

These service providers continue to deliver invaluable services to vulnerable populations in our community, and many have adapted their practices to protect their clients, employees and volunteers.

With many of us in the not-for-profit sector impacted in different ways by COVID-19, some of you may have the capacity to support our very important service providers.

We have made a comprehensive list of partners and their current needs with links to more information about how you can help.

Additionally, some partners are no longer accepting certain types of donated goods. These changes are also noted below.

Whether you are able to offer support, or unable to in these difficult times, the Foundation thanks you for your ongoing commitment to social justice in our state.

AnglicareSA

Donations to Anglicare’s COVID-19 Emergency Appeal can be made here. To limit the spread of COVID-19, AnglicareSA is currently not accepting donated goods from the public, including food, clothing and blankets.

Baptist Care SA

Baptist Care SA provides weekly emergency relief food parcels to people experiencing homelessness. The organisation has created a list of non-perishable food items, including:

  • Canned meat, soup, tinned fruits and vegetables.
  • Cereal and long life milk.
  • Rice.
  • Pasta sauce.
  • Shampoo, conditioner, body wash and deodorant.
  • And much more.

Items can be dropped off during office hours Monday through Friday between 9 am and 5 pm at 11-19 Millers Court (off Wright Street).

Baptist Care SA is also seeking mobile phones (Android not Apple) to help connect those experiencing isolation with their loved ones.

Catherine House Inc.

The current virus threat means clients need more support than ever, and donations can be made here. Volunteer programs have been paused and in-kind goods donations are currently not accepted.

Community Housing LTD

CHL has compiled resources related to COVID-19, state-specific information, and FAQs related to housing and tenancy matters.

Housing Choices South Australia

Housing Choices South Australia has been curating helpful resources on their Facebook page, including a telephone check-in service from the Red Cross and a factsheet for older Australians from COTA SA.

They also shared Action for Happiness’ Meaningful May calendar, featuring daily prompts of positive actions you can take. Print it out and put it on your desk.

Hutt St Centre

Hutt St Centre is accepting food donations, including:

  • Reusable, BPA-free water bottles
  • Muesli bars
  • Long life milk
  • Coffee
  • Sugar
  • Supermarket gift cards

Clothing and household items are not currently being accepted.

Download Hutt St Centre’s COVID-19 wishlist. (PDF)

Junction Australia

Junction Australia’s Facebook page is curating ways to help local not-for-profit organisations.

OARS Community Transitions

OARS Community Transitions’ volunteer recruitment page is still active.

Australian Red Cross

The Australian Red Cross continues to support bushfire relief and helping those in need across Australia. It is still seeking volunteers. Find opportunities close to you on their volunteer page.

Blood and plasma donations remain vital in the fight against COVID-19. Travel and venue restrictions do not prevent people from giving blood, although the Red Cross encourages donors aged 70 and over to stay at home and self-isolate. Learn more about how to give blood and plasma.

The Red Cross created a page dedicated to tips about maintaining your well-being and how to take care of yourself and others in isolation.

The Salvation Army

As COVID–19 continues to impact our communities, The Salvation Army is working hard to continue providing support to those who need it most. Cash donations can be made here. The Salvation Army is not accepting donations of goods currently, so please do not drop unwanted goods outside the shops.

Uniting Communities

As of 1 May, anyone entering an aged care facility for work or to visit loved ones will be required to provide proof of a current flu vaccination. Uniting Communities encourages everyone to get your flu shot as soon as possible.

Vinnies

Vinnies has announced that shops at Hawthorn and Kidman Park have reopened as of 18 May 2020. Vinnies Hawthorn shop at 21 Abbotshall Road accepts quality donations of clothes, bric-a-brac, books and household items. Clean blankets are also being accepted to help those in need of warmth. Social distancing measures are in place and volunteers have proper protection.

Women’s Safety Services SA

The organisation encourages donations to Second Chances SA or the St. Vincent de Paul Society. Secondhand goods are not accepted.

Shelter SA

Shelter SA is involved in weekly Giving Tuesday campaigns. In a recent campaign, they asked for food or cash donations to be made to a list of homelessness service providers. Weekly updates can be found on their enews and Facebook page.

Writers Week review – Angela Woollacott’s biography on Don Dunstan

The Visionary Don Dunstan – Angela Woollacott Adelaide Writers’ Week event

Written by Chris Button

Don Dunstan’s lasting legacy as a strong leader, social reformer, and an eloquently intelligent politician commanded attention at a packed Adelaide Writers’ Week discussing his recent biography written by historian Angela Woollacott, Don Dunstan: The visionary politician who changed Australia.

Featuring discussion between Woollacott and local barrister Anthony Durkin, the 5 March event commenced with Durkin remarking on comments made on Dunstan by former Prime Minister Gough Whitlam. Specifically, the fact Whitlam said ‘No one has done more to transform his own community and society and… the whole of Australia.’ Tongue firmly planted in cheek, Durkin suggested that for such a renowned figure to make these comments, Dunstan must have been significant!

Woollacott then took to the lectern and listed a snapshot of Dunstan’s political achievements, including working towards Aboriginal land rights, equality, and Adelaide’s dining culture. Additionally, Woollacott paid homage to Dunstan’s very own Adelaide Festival performance in 1974, where he recited Ogden Nash poetry accompanied by Saint-Saens’ Carnival of the Animals a stone’s throw away at the Adelaide Zoo – to a sold-out audience, no less.

When Woollacott took time to quote reviews of her book to the audience, it was not to gloat, but to vividly illustrate the far-reaching impact Dunstan had on Australia. From The Saturday Paper’s Linda Jaivin recognising how much the former Premier shaped ‘the Australia I fell in love with’, to Adelaide’s own David Penberthy praising Dunstan’s progressive revamp of South Australia’s capital. Arguably pointed at the current political establishment, Woollacott quoted Christine Wallace, who posed and answered a poignant question in The Sydney Morning Herald: ‘What do you do with a politician capable of achieving an 82 percent approval rating? Answer: Study them closely.’

In working on the biography since 2011, Woollacott believed Dunstan’s importance to Australia was motivation enough to see it through and that researching him only enhanced her view of the man. As an Adelaide local, Woollacott said she came of age while Dunstan was Premier of South Australia, seeing firsthand the changes made during what is commonly referred to as the ‘Dunstan Decade’.

Once the format switched to a conversation between Woollacott and Durkin, the discussion turned to how strong a campaigner Dunstan was. Particularly in 1968, how he overcame the gerrymander in place which favoured the Liberal and Country League (LCL) party, and how his national campaigning embarrassed then-Premier Steele Hall into beginning to redraw the electoral boundaries. Dunstan was heralded by both Durkin and Woollacott for working with tenacity and passion towards objectives others thought impossible.

Other points of discussion included Dunstan’s love of the arts and willingness to invest political capital into it, which was unusual for the Australian Labor Party at the time. Additionally, his creativity in using the media advantageously was praised. Woollacott recalled Dunstan as an early adopter of opinion polls; not as a method of informing policy, but to help him identify where and how he could better explain his policies. Further, Dunstan’s elocution lessons and background in theatre helped to punctuate his points in a way few others could.

Additionally, both speakers commented on Dunstan’s ability to inspire bipartisanship, including a unique relationship with former LCL Premier Sir Thomas Playford, whom the former would regularly invite to discuss political matters in a pinch. Woollacott and Durkin took amusement in discussing a photo at Dunstan’s 50th birthday party, where he and Playford were pictured next to Whitlam and Bob Hawke – a stark contrast of political allegiances. They also commented on Dunstan’s focus on consensus leadership, different to the factional politics prevalent today.

Known for being a colourful character in many aspects of life, Dunstan is perhaps best known for the iconic photo of him wearing pink shorts and a tight, white t-shirt to Parliament House – against the wishes of his advisers. Woollacott suggested Dunstan was doing gym workouts at the time and was keen to show off his ‘quite buff’ figure.

Light-heartedly, albeit with an undeniable sense of frustration, Woollacott wished more people knew Dunstan for more than just pink shorts. This sentiment was shared by Anne Levy AO who was in attendance, believing more is required to educate younger generations on Dunstan’s legacy.

While there will only ever be one Don Dunstan, Woollacott implored current leaders to lead with curiosity and imagination, and lamented the absence of these qualities in the years since Dunstan’s time in politics. Further illustrating this, Woollacott pointed to Donald Horne’s 1964 book The Lucky Country which famously stated that ‘Australia is a lucky country, run mainly by second-rate people who share its luck.’ Woollacott spoke about how Dunstan was a bold leader actively interested in public affairs- something she yearns for a return to in the current political arena.

Homelessness to surge in South Australia because of COVID-19

Celeste Villani, City Editor, The City|May 10, 2020

Shelters are bracing for a surge in homelessness in SA in both employed and unemployed people because of the COVID-19 crisis – there’s already been a huge spike in the CBD.

Read the article here …