MWM, you said, "I think it's different in Austrailia. I could be wrong, but don't people automatically get supports if they need them?"
We don't get support automatically. What support there is, you have to apply for. And it's so fragmented, one mob never talking to any of the others, that problems (and some people) get missed. A lot of it is so tricky to apply for, if you are lacking life skills you're already at a major disadvantage.
The neighbour I mentioned - the only formal support he gets is a disability pension and maybe Meals-On-Wheels. He had the disability pension before his father died.
We do have a lot of homeless people on the streets - it was on the news tonight, because our weather is so cold at the moment that some of these people are dying. We have charities which drive round collecting people who are willing to go to a shelter overnight, plus there are other shelters which open their doors every night. Our mental institutions are virtually nonexistent, the people who used to live in this sort of accommodation are now on the streets. We have very little supported accommodation, you need to see a social worker to organise it and this sometimes happens if someone ends up in hospital, and the hospital organises something once they realise that the person's lifestyle is putting their health in further jeopardy. But nothing can be done without the consent of the patient.
A friend of ours at church used to work in the city as a church social worker, helping the homeless. Now he's retired the church has let the position go and is closing the doors - the homeless are not photogenic enough, they are bringing their image 'upmarket'.
When I worked in the inner city I often saw homeless people still getting their things together in the morning. I had a bad fall on the steps where I worked as I arrived one morning, a few homeless people passing by rushed over to help me. But it's not all good - another time I got back to my car to find it had been broken into. Nothing missing but they'd clearly been after spare change because a plastic wallet we keep in the glove compartment, with phone numbers in it and other papers, was lying open on the floor of the car (papers intact).
When I used to drive to work early, I would recognise "the regulars". And apparently it's a lot worse. On the news tonight they said the average age of Sydney's homeless is now down to mid-30s.
As for being lousy at managing money - difficult child 1 was shocking too, when he was 15. That's when his pension came in (we had to apply for it when he turned 15) and I had to go with him to the bank to lock away most of his pension. It took us a while to fine-tune how his account worked and each fortnight, the day before his pension was due into his account, he had to give me his card for four days, until the automatic transfer from his access account to the trust account, had taken place. The trust account is STILL set up so he can't touch the money without my signature as well. After 8 years of this compulsory saving, he now has about $10,000.
I also made him pay board and as he got older and wanted things like a mobile phone, he's also had to pay for his pre-paid phone. He's moved onto a monthly payment plan now ($20 a month plus excess calls) and so far is managing it. He never could have, back when he was 15.
When he turned 21 he had to get his own private health insurance. In Australia everyone is covered for basic medical care, but with his ongoing costs for medication, need to sometimes see a psychologist, dentist, etc we felt the added private cover would be useful. Each individual, or family, signs up for their choice of cover (whatever they can afford or are prepared to pay). We then have a lot more freedom in terms of available services. But we don't have to rely on employer-based health care.
For difficult child 1, the health fund deductions are paid fortnightly by his bank, deductions coming out within a few days of his pension payment. He's got into the habit now, of not touching his bank account until the Monday after his pension payment. This means that whatever is still available in his working account, is his. But he has to make it last for the next fortnight.
It's getting into the habits that helps. We never thought he would. We never expected him to ever be able to drive a car. Now he's 23 and suddenly decided it was time. He still hasn't got a job, and the various agencies which are supposed to work with disabled people to get them into the workforce - they're really useless.
The kids have access to counselling support at college. But the kid has to have the confidence to pick up the phone and make an appointment with the counsellor. I'm still doing this sort of thing for them, as well as reminding them of appointments. I'm trying to teach better organisation to them, especially difficult child 1. His last appointment he put the reminder in his phone, but then left it on the charger at the other end of the house.
When he's off to an appointment, he now always gets there on time. He doesn't always remember everything he was supposed to bring, but he's getting better.
As I said, repeated drill and no yelling at him because he seems so thick - is what helps. Sometimes I feel he's a ten-year-old kid with a good brain, trying to live in an adult world.
He IS getting there, but it's taking a lot longer than I ever thought possible. Still, he's doing more than I ever thought possible.
Australia is a place where a drifter kid can survive if they have to. There are warmer places up north, also hippie communes where he would find his niche. I'm not telling him about them, though. I want him to do his best to fit in as conventionally as possible. However, we had a man drift through the village about 8 years ago, who lived rough by choice. A gypsy, of sorts. He had developed his own way of life and his own philosophy by which he was surviving and thriving. He slept under the stars, or under a building if it was raining, and picked wild food from the forests or from the side of the road. He would clean up rubbish from the beach, just because it needed to be done. Sometimes someone would give him food; sometimes he would find an abandoned fruit tree and collect the fruit. That is one thing about Australia - you can do that, if it suits you. But most people like this drift to Nimbin, Australia's permanent Woodstock. We call them ferals. Not so much street people, as forest people. They look as if you went into the forest, shook the trees and this is what fell down.
I think as parents, we need to get our kids into ingrained behaviour patterns (like me teaching difficult child 1 to leave his bank account alone until the following Monday). It means rote drilling, gentle support and repeated, over and over, drill of what to do if. And then if we're not going to be available to help them deal with various basic stuff (like filling in a tax return form) we need to give them the information and the tools to get it done. Tonight husband was explaining to BF2, how to fill in his tax return. Another difficult child needing a parent's help.
We explain, we teach, then we do it all again. And again. We talk them through doing things for themselves and constantly supervise, and watch, and gently relax our hold on the leash.
If we do it right, they won't end up as ferals.