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Finding his feet after falling from the high wire

The Private Tenancy Support Service is available in Western Australia.

Arthur with a poster of himself as "The Great Arturo".

Arthur Trostl was literally a high flyer - a circus trapeze performer and successful theatrical producer - before a series of crushing blows saw his life spiral downwards leaving him on the brink of homelessness.

The 63 year old has experienced more in his life than many of us can even imagine. Born in the United States into a family of circus performers, he became a trapeze artist before travelling with a circus to Australia.

Later while waiting to board a flight from Los Angeles to Hawaii to feature in a popular television police drama, a bomb went off, killing three people near him, and leaving Arthur with lasting injuries. His remarkable survival prompted promoters to change his name from the Great Arturo to the Indestructible Arturo.

Arthur's career took another turn and he went on to become a large theatrical touring event agent, earning enough money to buy waterfront houses in Perth and Sydney. A divorce saw him lose much of the money, forcing another career change when he pursued another passion - building racing cars. The Global Financial Crisis hit and people weren't buying racing cars.

He bought a tool business, only to suffer another horrific injury, which left his legs and back crushed, and Arthur unable to work.

"You have this illusion you can live the same lifestyle but things just got worse," he says. "I shut my business and had to learn to live on the pension."

Then when his pension was cut off due to a change in the pension rules Arthur found himself with mounting debts he was unable to service and unable to pay the rent. He was threatened with eviction and realised he was just a few days away from homelessness and joining the ranks of the one in every 200 people who are homeless in Australia.

Red Cross caseworker Sophie Exon from Private Tenancy Support Service supported Arthur to get emergency financial and food relief, then to tackle ways of getting out of debt including financial counselling.

"I can't imagine living on the street. It would be horrible," he says. "But Red Cross were there for me. Just having them there, sitting with me, having someone on your side, that really makes a difference.

"You start to regain your self esteem. Once you start to feel like there are people out there helping you, you yourself start to get involved. You start to take control."

Arthur says he's gone from feeling overwhelmed and unable to know what to do, to planning ways to get out of debt. He is now busy cataloguing and selling his old tools on the internet.

"Red Cross and Sophie got involved, they started helping, and I said 'I can get a little bit of money here, a little bit there. I've got all this equipment I don't need anymore that I can sell,' and I started to take control."

As to the future?

"I'm catching up. I'm going to catch up!" he says with flashes of the Indestructible Arturo in his smile.

Photo: Sarah Landro/Australian Red Cross

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