Archives for : HOME OWNERSHIP

Homeless women tell their own stories in a documentary ‘How I Got Over’ by Danielle Henderson

Marginalized women are far too often not in control of their own story, but the strong, talented women in Nicole Boxer’s new documentary How I Got Over have turned their lives into art. The intense, gripping movie focuses on how 15 formerly homeless women create a play for a performance at the prestigious Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

Boxer, who produced The Invisible War and the upcoming The Hunting Ground, produced and directed the film. She told Women and Hollywood:

The women of N Street Village are survivors of the 50-year “War on Poverty”, and their traumatic tales can inform our humanity about what is so beautiful — but what is equally heartbreaking — about this particular American experience. I fell in love with the characters in my film because, as much as they resisted at first, they became incredible truth-tellers, master story-tellers, and the keepers of history. I learned so much about the city I had lived in for years, but clearly only on the periphery. These women knew the city, its politics, its real secrets — and lead us to a common humanity, a common shared community. They point out for us the cruelty of the system of incarceration that keeps many locked up and unable to heal from past trauma. We all share the desire for a better life for our families, even though we make mistakes.


Henry Sapiecha

Womens plight highlighted in Australia by BHP with homelessness

BHP Billiton Sustainable Communities Helps Homeless People Help Themselves

Womens plight highlighted in Australia

August 12, 2014

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​ BHP Billiton Sustainable Communities (BSC) marked 2014 Homeless Persons Week in Australia by announcing another three-year commitment to The Big Issue Women’s Subscription Enterprise (WSE).

The Big Issue found selling magazines on the street was not a viable option for many women because of issues including safety and childcare. Under the WSE model, women are given the opportunity to work in four-hour shifts in a friendly and safe female-only team environment.

The BHP Billiton Sustainable Communities charity has supported the WSE since 2011, and over the next three years will purchase 650 annual subscriptions for BHP Billiton workplaces around the country. This support will provide employment for more than six women a year.

BHP Billiton CEO, Andrew Mackenzie said helping homeless, marginalised and disadvantaged people improve their life was an important part of BHP Billiton’s contribution to communities.

“The provision of housing is a basic human right and I’m delighted that through the BHP Billiton Sustainable Communities we are able to support The Big Issue in their important work to provide thousands of people with a sustainable way forward,” Mr Mackenzie said.

Since launching the Women’s Subscription Enterprise in 2010, the Enterprise has employed more than 100 women in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.

The Big Issue CEO, Steven Persson welcomed the partnership.

We know there are some 46,000 women homeless in Australia on any given night,” Mr Persson said.

Corporate Australia can make a big difference to the lives of marginalised women by supporting simple solutions like the Women’s Subscription Enterprise.

“The support of BHP Billiton Sustainable Communities will allow us to employ more women through the Women’s Subscription Enterprise, giving women in need the opportunity to earn an income and turn their lives around.”

The Big Issue is an independent, not-for-profit organisation that develops solutions to help homeless, marginalised and disadvantaged people positively change their lives:

For more information, please see the News Release.

Henry Sapiecha


The price of weddings has gone up. Again. Now, a survey by a national bridal magazine shows, people will spend upwards of $54,000 on their nuptials.

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When economics journalist Jessica Irvine wrote about her wedding while still at Fairfax Media last year, the average cost was about $35,000.

That was Only. Last. Year. The current rate of inflation is 2.2 per cent. A $19,000 increase is well in excess of that at 54.2%. And annual GDP growth sits at about 2.6 per cent – so it’s not like we’re all suddenly much better endowed and able to spend big on dowries.

So how did the average price of a wedding rise so much, so soon? Are the rich spending more and so lifting the total for everyone? Are we spending more in general? Or did the sneaky merchants of matrimony somehow figure out how to jack their prices up by half?


Whatever the reason, it seems like a ridiculous price to pay for one big day. Especially when you consider what else you can buy for $54,000.

Like a house.

RP Data says the median price for houses in the capital cities of Australia is $490,000. Various banks suggest 5 to 20 per cent of the house price is good enough for a deposit. Is the price of a wedding really worth your own home?

And $54,000 is also about 64 per cent of the average Australian wage. Of course, if we’re talking couples, that means a larger income pool to draw on (do the bride’s parents still foot the bill?).

But even if a couple is sharing the cost, and presuming they’re each earning the average wage, a wedding could equate to 35 per cent of their combined annual income. That means one third of all the work they do in one year is devoted to a ceremony and reception that runs roughly as long as one working day. In other words, each party would need a job that paid about $3300 an hour to make the whole exercise worth a day’s work.

Chances of that? Pretty slim.

So what’s the point? Why spend so much on a wedding? And keep in mind that an average is only calculated on a sum of parts. Some people spend far more on their bridal bash than the paltry $54,000.

Yet, as someone planning a wedding, I know how easy it is to part with the cash. Even for a small, intimate gathering such as ours – although our costs may have something to do with a guestlist comprising journalists and political types and two families who know how to enjoy good champagne.

And why shouldn’t your wedding be a big celebration? Why shouldn’t you afford yourselves and your guests the pleasure of nice food and drink and fragrant, tastefully arranged centrepieces? You’re only going to do it once, right? May as well do it in a dress that fits and looks fantastic, in a place as memorable as your vows, with cake they can eat, with pleasure, till the small hours of a momentous occasion. Hang the cost and enjoy the celebration!

You won’t live to regret it. Right?

Well, I know a couple who did. They had sunk tens of thousands of dollars they didn’t really have into a wedding they didn’t really want. The debt they carried almost destroyed their relationship, not to mention the relationships they shared with the family and friends who set the standard so high. They are still paying for one day years later, in more ways than one. They’ll make it through because they love each other deeply. And they didn’t need a big wedding to prove it.

And that’s the point. A wedding isn’t a marriage. A wedding is a ceremony that officiates the union between two people. Specifically, a man and a woman in Australia’s current, narrow view. A wedding is also a great excuse for a party. But a party that costs as much as a very nice new car? Or luxury round-the-world trip? Is it wise to pour so much money into just one day?

Ultimately how much money is spent on a wedding is a decision every couple should make for itself. It’s a decision that should be balanced against their future together, not the immediate expectations of everyone around them. It’s about living within one’s means, not how one wishes one could.

We do need to put a stop to this culture that demands overspending. Far better to cultivate a community that values the bigger, deeper meaning of now and forever than the flashy, splashy blingy things that have become hitched to the sentiment.

Yet the cost keeps going up.

Have we lost the battle?


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