When a major metropolitan newspaper writes a series of articles describing your living conditions as “third world squalor”, and claiming your community is full of ice addicts and criminals, you’re going to treat future journalists with some suspicion.
That’s how Penthouse was greeted by the residents of Mudgeeraba Caravan Village, located ten kilometres from Surfer’s Paradise and recently branded “Australia’s worst caravan park”.
The park has been described as a haven for drug use and violence. A characterisation residents staunchly dispute, claiming the blame lies on unwelcome outsiders who frequent the park and are responsible for it’s negative reputation, while leaving paying tenants to deal with the aftermath.
“We’ve got the worst reputation on the coast now” said Brad, who has lived at the park for over ten years. “They make us out to be a bunch of junkies and criminals, but those who engage in that, don’t last long around here.”
The park provides accommodation to a number of people who would “likely be homeless without it”, said Leah, 45, a woman who has been living in the park for the past 5 months. “Some of us can’t fit in mainstream society with the conditions we have. We have our own system of looking out for each other, and making sure those who need help are ok”. “I moved here to get away from an abusive domestic violence relationship, when I [told] people where I lived, the stigma was painful... Their attitude changes straight away, and you’re looked down upon. But I love being here. I love the people. We’ve all had abusive childhoods, abusive relationships... but we have common ground.”