Bruce Mackenzie has been living rough outside the South Australian town of Beachport for more than three years. Unemployed and moving from caravan to tent and changing campsites regularly, he is one of more than 105,000 Australians identified as homeless.
Life wasn’t always so tough for Bruce. As a younger man he was a successful shearer, but alcoholism and substance abuse cost him both his job and family. ‘My little family fell apart’, Bruce explained to the ABC. ‘And I fell apart’.
As a result of drink driving charges, Bruce spent several months moving between correctional centres in Mount Gambier, Yatala and Cadell. Following his jail time he made numerous attempts to get his life together, buying a car and readying himself for the workforce. However, this progress was hampered by various setbacks including a fine from local police for living on public land.
Bruce believes that he is helped by many in the local community including some of his old shearing mates. Bruce has gone to great effort to make his surroundings more like a home. His campsite consists of a makeshift roof and walls, built from rocks and drift wood- held together with bailing twine.
Like many of those living rough, he is sometimes contradictory about the conditions he lives in. While he says Winter’s are very tough, he also says of his current dwelling that he ‘loves it and hates it. ’
This video was produced over a six-month period by Open Producer Marcus Thompson and Cross Media Reporter Tash Impey in collaboration with ABC Open contributors Mitch Mott and Jack Brookes.
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