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One of Australia’s most accomplished animation screenwriters knew he taking a gamble when he pursued his dream career in a somewhat precarious industry.

But Leonard Lee (73), who wrote the original Blinky Bill movie and more than 30 animation films adapted from classic books, never imagined that later in life he would end up homeless.

After living in a private rental property in Adelaide for 14 years, in 2019 Leonard was told that the house was to be demolished and the lease was not to be renewed. With a lapse in income, he was unable to find an affordable rental.

He spent the following months living in motels and pubs until the money ran out – eventually resorting to sleeping in his van.

“I did realise how close I came. In a real sense, I was homeless,” he said.

“I was sleeping outside my old house and I got attacked by someone trying to get into the van. 

“For me as a journalist, it was an interesting experience to know what it [homelessness] was like – it was not me observing, it was me actually living it.”

Leonard with AnglicareSA Aged Care Advocacy officer Karen

After weeks of instability, Leonard learned about My Aged Care, the Australian Government’s portal designed to help older Australians seek assistance.

Through a My Aged Care Assessment he was referred to AnglicareSA’s Assistance with Care and Housing program.

It was at the same time that family and friends first heard of Leonard’s situation, and he temporarily stayed with his sister.

“I never knew about the aged care program – it’s only because I went to a B&B one night and a woman knew about it and provided me with a contact,” he said.

“I had no idea – it’s been quite an educational process for me.”

Leonard’s story shows how quickly life’s circumstances can change.

AnglicareSA registered Leonard with the various public housing bodies, further advocating with these organisations.

Three months later Leonard was offered housing though Community Housing Limited.

While Leonard had managed to store a small amount of his belongings, he did not have any furniture for his new home. Through the generosity of the Aged Persons Welfare Foundation grant, he was able to make his new place feel like “home”.

“I had nothing when I walked in here. Bed, fridge, washing machine, linen and a food hamper – it was all provided. I love this place. I feel very secure and comfortable here.”

Leonard said his new house feels like ‘home’.

Leonard, who has also worked as a journalist and documentary-maker, considers himself very lucky to have travelled to various countries, and at times, live a life of luxury.

But his story is one of many examples of how quickly things can change – everyone is vulnerable to homelessness.

“It’s freezing and people are sleeping in the parks,” he said.

“Homelessness is a very real issue and while it exists, it’s a blot on our landscape.

“I believe there is a real push to get people off the streets – so they are doing something about it.”

Leonard’s new safe and secure home has enabled him to get back into writing – he is currently working on new material which he hopes to share soon.