Something You Call Unique
Homeless people at Crossroads Youth Crisis Centre in St Kilda, Victoria
"SOMETHING YOU CALL UNIQUE" is a portrait of homeless youth and the welfare system that supports them. The film shows the work of one of Australia's largest youth welfare agencies, the Salvation Army's Crossroads Youth Project. It is a window on the world of welfare givers and welfare receivers, a world that few in the community have any contact with, although many have strong opinions (as we see in the program).
"SOMETHING YOU CALL UNIQUE" not only brings us face to face with the reality of youth homelessness, but also tackles the wider agenda of the place of welfare itself in a climate of creeping economic rationalism. It affirms the place of those who work at the coalface, who ignore judgementalism and just get on with the job of helping people re-build their lives.
Throughout the film this heroic struggle is juxtaposed with debates about worthiness, causes and just what are realistic solutions. As well as many homeless youth, we also hear from the likes of prime minister Bob Hawke; the head of ACOSS, Julian Disney; Dave Eldridge, the head of Crossroads; Prof. Michael Porter, Director of the Centre of Policy Studies, a right wing think-tank; and David Connolly, the then Liberal Shadow Minister for Social Security.
The mix of left and right makes for a fascinating discussion on this important social issue that is as much a problem today as it was when this film was made.