Spotted in Newtown.
‘My mum just got out of becoming really sick. She had a bit of a drug habit in other words. My father died early this year so I’ve had to deal with a lot of grief and that kind of stuff. We’re all strong people and everyone has a story. It makes you who you are and if you can get through that pain, it makes you stronger.
‘The hardest part is trying to get my mum to be stable. She’s been in this drug habit for as long as I can remember. The fact that she’s still alive is surprising. She won’t contact us and then she will. It’s really stressful because we don’t know what to do. I’ve got little siblings that live with my grandparents and are really worried about her. I want to do more to help but unfortunately I can’t stop her from being in this habit. There is nothing I can do except for just support my family. So that’s what I’m trying to do at the moment.
‘When you’re dealing with chaos all your life, you just want stability. When I say to people, I just want to get a job, they ask me why and tell me that working sucks. But I’ve never had a job and I want to do something. I want to contribute to society. I want to have an income, have a place to live, pay rent, have a stable life where I can work, see my friends, have a routine and not have to live in chaos.
‘Stability to me means having a home, having a place to go to and knowing who the people in your life are that support you. When you’re in too much of a chaotic environment, your head gets chaotic, you don’t know who you are and you lose sense of everything. Your sense of reality is warped and that’s what I’m trying to heal from now. I’m just hoping that eventually I won’t have to deal with that anymore.’
What’s one memory you hope you never forget?
‘My mum passed away when I was about 19 so I had to look after my brother and sister on my own. They were 12 and 13 at the time. I don’t know how I did it. It’s hard looking after teenagers at any age. I managed for about 4 years and then I couldn’t do it anymore so my sister went to live with my family up in the country and my brother went to my dad.’
What do you miss most about your mum?
‘The fact that I didn’t have to be responsible. I miss her all the time. Every day.’
‘The saddest moment in my life was when I went to Long Bay Jail. I spent 2½ years in there. I robbed a 7-Eleven in Matraville. I was an alcoholic and a drug addict.’
What did it teach you?
‘Gratitude. Loss of freedom. It taught me to be humble. It taught me to respect others – that you can’t take other people’s money or belongings. I’ve turned all that around in my life. I now go down to Mathew Talbot every Tuesday and feed the homeless. I give back; try and make up. I haven’t been back to prison since 1999. I intend not to go back. I’ve got 3 businesses and I went to acting school.
‘It’s hard when you’re in prison because you’re judged by the police first and you’re judged by the judge and jury. Then you’re judged by Corrective Services and then you get out of prison and you’re judged by society.’
What was the hardest thing when you came out of jail?
‘Getting accepted again by society – them not knowing that I’d changed. There are some people in society that want help; that want rehabilitation. I’ve learned my greatest lessons from my biggest mistakes.’
‘The way we found out was breakfast news. That was the first we’d heard about it. An hour later we had a knock on the door from the WestConnex people with an information pack which was all about the compulsory acquisition. This is my life and I deserve to find out in a slightly more humane way than on breakfast news.
‘I was completely lost for words. It was just absolute shell shock. We were completely blown away. We’ve known the WestConnex was under discussion but we didn’t have any real idea of what that meant for this local area.
‘How do you explain it to your kids? This is home to them. To have to explain that night to a 7 year old and a 4 year old, we are going to have to move. I can’t tell you when. I can’t tell you where.
‘These are people’s homes. This is our lives. This is our community that we’re very invested in.
‘When we bought our home, we knew there was a compulsory purchase order on the house since 1951 and on houses down to Parramatta Road I think. This was the last piece of road that didn’t have those purchase orders taken off. When I spoke to people we were told the only reason that the reservation was still in place here was because the residents haven’t got together to petition to have it removed.
‘We live in a city where you put more roads in place, you get more cars. Where are all these cars going to go? Fundamentally we need public transport and I would think everybody in this area would probably agree.
‘It affects me directly yes, but it affects people who live 6 houses away from me. It affects people who live 6-10 roads away in Newtown and it will continue to flow. It’s not just about me and my house being purchased. It’s about everybody in the community standing up and saying this is not what we want and it’s not what’s best for the Inner West. Public transport, not roads.’
‘I last saw my brother at Manchester airport 20 years ago when I was 7 years old. He was leaving for Australia. I clearly remember giving him a hug and saying goodbye and that we’d see each other again.
‘We communicated by hand written letters over the years. All his letters were always so loving and positive. Whenever he used to phone at Xmas and would say goodbye to me, he could barely talk he was so upset. I really remember not understanding why he was so sad. I think it became easier over the years not to make that call and just to cut himself off a bit.
‘He didn’t phone at Xmas in 2003 and we got a bit worried. He’d been travelling around Australia and promised he’d be better at keeping in touch. He was always at this one address at Stanmore so we always knew we could get hold of him there.
‘Shortly after that, I got the last letter I’ve ever had from him. It was really sweet. He said never to worry about him and he’s very happy. I carried on writing after that but we didn’t hear anything for a while.
‘In 2009, I got every single letter I sent him to Stanmore sent back to me unopened, altogether in a big package.
‘I came out last year for 2 months to look for him. I’ve contacted the Salvation Army, Missing Persons Register, Red Cross. I went to the electoral roll and visited every Martin Roberts in Sydney. I wrote to every single Martin Roberts across Australia. I’ve checked the death register. Nothing. Immigration says he hasn’t moved on so I know he’s here.
‘I’ve given up my life, my job, my partner, everything to come out here again to look for him. Police have confirmed there is a Martin David Roberts with his date of birth listed to an address in Newtown. That’s the best news ever because it means he’s still alive because there is a part of you that starts thinking something awful happened to him.
‘He was seen 4 months ago at Newtown station and around 9 months ago at Town Hall station and apparently he’s a bit of a regular in pokie rooms around Newtown.
‘I don’t want to judge him for anything he’s been through. I don’t need a justification or a reason. None of us do. I just want to tell him that I love him and that he’s loved and missed.’
PLEASE SHARE TO HELP FIND MARTIN. IF YOU KNOW OF HIS WHEREABOUTS, PLEASE CONTACT NEWTOWN POLICE OR HIS SISTER VIA http://www.facebook.com/helpfindmartin
‘Some of the most powerful advocates of marriage equality are parents of gay men, lesbians and transgender people. They’re incredible advocates when they say they don’t want anything except for their son or daughter to be treated like everyone else. Every story helps with the realisation that this is a very normal thing and the world isn’t going to collapse. All that’s going to happen is that people that love each other can get married and just get on with it.’
‘I remember going towards the station and then everything goes black. I had a traumatic brain injury and was in an induced coma for 6 days. They weren’t expecting me to be walking or talking very much at all but miraculously I got out of hospital about 2 weeks later.
‘I was crossing at a pedestrian crossing and was run down by a station wagon. A year and a half later, I’ve finally been able to think about things like this and try and find the person who saved me.
‘The only information I have is that her name starts with an M – Melanie or Melissa maybe. I’m told that she gave me first aid – possibly CPR – and it very well saved my life. She called the hospital in the first couple of days probably 3 or 4 times just to check in and the hospital staff tried to take her name but it all got lost in the paperwork.
‘Not only did she probably save my life on that night but knowing that there was someone like her out there has helped me recover and has probably saved my life throughout this year. It’s given me faith to pull through.
‘I just want to let her know that the person that she stopped and saw that night covered in blood is alive and incredibly grateful. I hope to meet her one day just to say thank you. I’d like to be able to explain it with a deeper meaning but in the end it just comes down to two words. There are a million ways to say it but the message is just “thank you”.’
What did you learn from your marriage?
‘Never confuse your projection of someone else with what they are. What you think someone is isn’t necessarily what they are and no matter how much you want to be someone else, they are them. Whoever it is, you’re going to be with, you have to accept them with no conditions.’