ballina family destitute and homeless
By DAWN COHEN
AFTER losing everything they owned in a gas explosion, a pregnant woman, her injured partner and two children have been kicked out of their home because of their age.
Georgia Wagner, Steve Hayden and their children, Elizabeth and Ethan, were thrown out of Ballina's Seabreeze Caravan Park because the facility does not want permanent residents under 60.
"We have found another park but we can only stay there for two weeks because they cater to tourists," Ms Wagner, 30, said.
"It's frightening. My baby is due in 12 weeks, and we have no home."
A month ago, a gas fridge exploded into flames in the family's camper trailer while they were staying in the South Ballina park, en route to Queensland.
The seasonal fruit pickers from Victoria had packed everything they owned in the trailer, planning to find their fortune fossicking near Bundaberg.
"I was doing the washing, when I heard a massive noise, and everyone was running to our site," said Georgia.
"I ran too, and saw the fire. Steve was bucketing water over it.
"I got the kids away, but they saw our cockatoo, Cheeky, reduced to charcoal.
"They aren't over it and nor am I."
Steve's legs were burnt in the accident.
Clothes, toys and their fossicking equipment were destroyed.
Residents in the park constructed a makeshift cover for the trailer and a worker at Ballina Community Health Centre donated a tent.
With Steve, 37, recovering and the baby due soon, they decided to remain on the Northern Rivers.
But on Tuesday they were thrown out of the Seabreeze Caravan Park.
A spokesman for the park said he did not want more permanent residents under 60.
"Permanent residents can cause trouble," he said.
"The legal advice is if people stay more than 30 days, it can be hard to get them out."
The spokesman said Georgia Wagner and her family had been well behaved and had paid their way, but he said the family had been befriended by park residents he saw as trouble-makers.
"I gave them a cheap cabin for a few days, with free linen," he said.
"I already gave them extra time.
"We are a business, not public housing."
For Elizabeth, Tuesday's nightmare did have a silver lining.
While preparing to leave, the 12-year-old discovered a toy she thought had been destroyed with all the others.
"But I can't share it with my brother Ethan because it's a pocket knife and he is only five," she said.