Gath­er­ing pieces of young, shat­tered lives

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv - Sian Pow­ell

BRUISED and hag­gard, Ha­ley has a $ 600- a- day heroin habit. Chris is bat­tling an ad­dic­tion to ice, a drug that sends him crazy. Owen smoked

heaps’’ of ice, and spent his child­hood in and out of ju­ve­nile de­ten­tion.

On the face of it, they are foul­mouthed, feck­less and an­gry. Like thou­sands of other Aus­tralian street kids, they turn to drugs for so­lace, usu­ally spurn­ing the ef­forts of do­good­ers. Yet the Sal­va­tion Army’s Paul Moulds has spent 25 years try­ing to help Owen, Ha­ley and oth­ers like them.

Moulds runs the Oa­sis Youth Refuge, which sleeps 14 teenagers who would oth­er­wise sleep on a pave­ment or in a park. He tries to find the street kids work and per­ma­nent ac­com­mo­da­tion when they want it, and he tries to get them to sign up to drug re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion pro­grams. He deals with daily abuse and in­grat­i­tude, yet ev­ery now and then his un­flag­ging pa­tience and com­pas­sion score a win.

Like Dar­ren, whom Moulds found as an eight- year- old sleep­ing in a hole in the wall. Dar­ren’s mother had packed up and aban­doned him and his older brother.

Dar­ren had the child­hood from hell, and he was soon sucked into a 15- year heroin ad­dic­tion.

Moulds helped him get through a detox pro­gram, and helped him find a flat af­ter seven years on the street. Th­ese days he is ap­par­ently set­tled in and re­turn­ing to Oa­sis to help out with vol­un­teer work. Owen, too, has over­come his ice ad­dic­tion and now works as a gar­dener.

This grip­ping and ex­tremely un­set­tling doc­u­men­tary fol­lows the life and times of Dar­ren, Owen and sev­eral other street- dwellers who come and go, us­ing Oa­sis as a shel­ter, a home base, and a coun­selling ser­vice.

The film­mak­ers ob­vi­ously put in a great deal of work to chron­i­cle the darker side: there is footage of one street kid on ice go­ing berserk and fi­nally be­ing dragged away by the po­lice, and footage of the funeral of an­other lost soul who fell to his death from a sky­scraper.

Ha­ley, who has the mon­ster heroin habit and dab­bles with ice as a side­line, pro­vides some haunt­ing mo­ments. Now in her early 20s, she has been in and out of Oa­sis since she was 15; she left home af­ter the boyfriend of her drug­gie mother kept bash­ing her up. Once she wanted to be a nurse, and maybe get mar­ried and have chil­dren. But ice and heroin have un­done her and she tells the cam­era, cry­ing, that her life is a mess.

Moulds’s wife, Robyn ( an­other Sal­va­tion Army saint), goes look­ing for Ha­ley in Hyde Park, where she now of­ten sleeps un­der the bushes.

She finds her, hugs her, of­fers her some help, and fi­nally, nec­es­sar­ily, lets her go.

Un­flag­ging pa­tience: The Sal­va­tion Army’s Paul Moulds

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