Through the gaps

• Maree Rogers and son Brandon outside her mum’s house. Photo by Steve Grant

• Maree Rogers and son Brandon outside her mum’s house. Photo by Steve Grant

BUSTED dealing drugs from her Homeswest house and evicted. Does Maree Rogers deserve another chance?

The 36-year-old single mum and her three children have been surfing couches since bailiffs and police rocked up on October 23 to kick them out of their Willagee home.

She is struggling to keep her family together: With no money to pay for storage and no car, she left all her possessions behind and they’ve been seized by the government.

To make matters worse, Ms Rogers missed the chance to plead her case when she was 10 minutes late for a court appearance where her eviction was confirmed.

But there’s the rub—she was late because she’s turning her life around and trying to be a good mum by taking her eldest son to school. He’d been living with his father and getting into trouble with the law, but since returning to her care he’s enjoying a new school and a trouble-free life.

A bus held up by a freeway crash sealed her fate. She’d wanted to show the magistrate she’d passed every court-ordered drug test.

As she puffs on a Winnie and we chat on the front porch of her mother’s home in Coolbellup, Ms Rogers’ three-year-old son quietly plays with nanna’s garden ornaments nearby. His toys are gone.

“When we went back and looked in the window to make sure everything was still there, there was a ball he could see,” Ms Rogers says. “It was hard to get him away—he didn’t understand and he just screamed.”

Brandon—the same age as my own son—is a gorgeous kid who urges me to drive safely and watch out for cars as I scoot off. I’m struck by the fact he will be the most affected by Homeswest’s zero tolerance stance, and wonder what happens to those who fall off the social housing rung.

Homeswest doesn’t know.

“The department does not monitor former tenants,” general manager Steve Parry told the Herald. He says there is no avenue for Ms Rogers to appeal the eviction as it was upheld by the court. She can reapply for housing assistance, including bond assistance to help her get into the private market, “… in which case the department will review the circumstances of her previous tenancy and decide whether to grant further assistance”.

Where did it all go so wrong? Growing up in Coolbellup didn’t help. Even rougher back then, Ms Rogers was smoking pot by the time she was 12 because that’s what all the kids were doing: “My mum didn’t know,” she says. “She’d have killed me if she did. Then I went to Esperance for 10 years, and that’s where I met the drug life—the harder side.”

She’d found work on fishing trawlers and in shearing sheds, even qualifying as a butcher and saving enough to buy her own house. But drug use was rife, particularly on the trawlers, and amphetamines were the drug of choice.

“When I was 20 I was hooked,” she says.

A series of disastrous, and sometimes abusive, relationships and motherhood followed.

Then came the first drug bust.

Ms Rogers fled north, leaving her kids with their fathers and cleaning up her act. She found work with Woolworths and rose to manage a section of the supermarket.

A few years later she returned to Perth and, after getting into a relationship with another drug user, started using again herself.

As money ran short she took up a friend’s suggestion that she deal some on the side. The dramatic and humiliating bust happened earlier this year.

“It was someone telling me to pull my head in—there I was sitting in the lounge with my little feller, and there’s a house full of police officers and sniffer dogs,” she recalls.

Approaching 40, she’s terrified of losing her youngest son to child protection and steers clear of drugs (except tobacco) and has been in contact with a former colleague at Woolies.

He’s told her there’s work available, but without a permanent home she’s unable to get Brandon into childcare and says with no possessions it’s hard to imagine trying to keep a job down.

So why contact the Herald?

“I’m not looking for anything, I just wanted to be able to tell my side.”


One response to “Through the gaps

  1. Can you please tell me if Maree Rogers’ mother is Colleen Rogers and her father Ernie Rogers. Also brother and sister Kelly or Dean.

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