Homeless Sydney dev “will code for latte”


blog I don’t know whether to feel slightly dubious about her story or merely sorry for Adelle Hartley, a Sydney C#/SQL developer who says she is homeless and has featured in an extensive article published by ninemsn this week. The website writes (we recommend you click here for the full article; with picture):

“Ms Hartley had been working in Sydney for 10 years after studying mathematics and computer science in Tasmania, but her last contract ended about six months ago. Today she has joined the ranks of Sydney’s homeless, sporting a sandwich board that says: ‘Will code 4 latte.'”

If this is her LinkedIn profile, it looks as if Hartley has quite a lot of experience in the industry, including stints at AMP, Verdant and Artis Consulting. She’s also a member of about a dozen IT industry groups on LinkedIn, ranking from the .NET Developers group to the Javascript professional group.

I guess the thing I don’t understand with regards to Hartley is why, if she’s having trouble finding a job as an IT worker, doesn’t she get involved with one of the many Sydney IT startup programs, which are always looking for cheap new developers and definitely have some cash to fund places to sleep, or find work in other fields? I myself paid my way through university with a stack of random part-time jobs and Centrelink, including collecting money on the street for various charities. I could always afford a roof over my head, but as with quite a few of my friends, there were often weeks where my main diet consisted of two minute noodles. You have to start somewhere.

Alternatively, perhaps one of the many IT employers out there who read Delimiter could give Hartley a leg up. If she truly has been working in Australia’s IT industry for the past ten years, no doubt she has a stack of useful skills which would make her more than employable. She certainly has initiative.

Image credit: Julia Freeman-Woolpert, royalty free


  1. That seems weird. If you have development skills the very least you can do is go to a website like elance.com (or one of hundreds of others) and take jobs there. You won’t get hundreds of $$$ per hour, but it’s enough to afford a roof over your head. When I started consulting, I used to work on elance. It’s not glamorous but it’s enough to get you a bit of a portfolio.

    I don’t want to sound insensitive, but I just don’t understand how people with marketable skills can not find work.

  2. I think there’s more than meets the eye with this story. Even if she can’t get a job as a developer, I’m sure she can find a job working *somewhere*, regardless of the position. I don’t know what living costs are like in Australia, but surely something as low as a 10,000 AUD / year position would provide her with enough money for a one-bed apartment and enough food to keep her alive.

    Perhaps events at her previous position have rendered her unemployable? I don’t know. It’s merely speculation at this point.

    • “Perhaps events at her previous position have rendered her unemployable?”

      It has to be something along these lines. There is always work for C# devs, especially those with more than a couple of years experience – take it from a guy who’s been a C# dev for nearly a decade, and contracting for most of that time. There is simply no way you could go without work for long enough to become homeless unless there was some other factor involved.

    • Sydney is the seventh most expensive city in the world to live in.
      Average weekly earnings in Australia are $1047.20. Which is $54,444 per year.
      $10,000 per year is $192 per week.

      A 1 bedroom place in Sydney ranges from between $280 and $380 per week, that’s just some average pricing. $10K in Australia won’t cut it, I earnt more than that as a uni student working in retail.

      These days I don’t roll out of bed for less than $135,000 per year and I’m just an IT Project Manager.

  3. You cant get work in any industry if your desperate, people just dont trust you, if you do get work they still dont trust you to do anything important because your cheap.

    IT companies heavily favor paying top dollar for the best, if you try and negotiate a position for a cheaper wage they will just pass you over and look for someone else.

    Also as a generalization you need to have world class skills in three (or more) specializations, but the industry is really messed up, employers dont even know what they want. Ive seen jobs advertised that want experience from before the industry existed (Embedded linux experience from before the IBM wristwatch)

    I did years of voluntary work on a C program thats used pervasively in the embedded linux projects, used in hundreds of millions of devices, there from the start of the embedded linux, i gave up looking for commercial work in IT, i was told by companies;
    – They dont employ Free software people because they get to use my work for free anyway.
    – I dont have “commercial” experience, even though the companies used my software.
    But they are the good companies, its rare to even get a response.

    My advice, if you love something, dont even try and do it for the money.

  4. I’m a business owner in Perth and I’ve just tried to connect with her on LinkedIn, I’m curious whether she’d like to make the move to Objective-C. I’ll keep you updated.

  5. As you rightly point out, there are safety nets and oodles of casual/part-time work available in Sydney.
    I do volunteer work with the Matthew Talbot homeless men’s shelter in Sydney, and IMHO what she is doing trivialises the genuine problem of homelessness.


    • I don’t know why she is homeless or can’t get work. I would suggest that there is a lot more to the story than has been reported.

      If you have worked for any length of time with the homeless and provided case management for them you should know that every case is different. Your remarks are judgmental and I am sure don’t reflect the empathy or ethos of Mathew Talbot.

      I have over 10 years experience working with the homeless so do have some clue about the problem.

      • Don’t forget also (this is to everyone in general), it may not just be her unemployment that causes her homelessness (ie no work, too skilled for entry level jobs etc), there can be a raft of mental health/family/social issues that all pile in together – and before they know it the person is homeless and stuck in a rut.

        I haven’t read the full article, it does seem odd to be asking for a Latte however, simple money/food would more often fit the bill.

        Homelessness is a difficult topic, rarely black and white – grey areas. Renai is probably correct, you get conflicted between feeling sorry, but also questioning the circumstances.

        I hope she gets back on track, best of luck.

  6. Personally i think she is aiming for publicity and an easy gain. I am an IT recruitment consultant in Sydney and I saw this woman on George street, read her sign then gave her my business card a week ago. I told her to make sure she sends me her CV. She still hasn’t emailed or called. How desperate is she???

    • If all she had to do to get an IT job was to ring a recruiter than im sure she would have a job by now.

  7. I dont get it, In ’96 my ex wife and i moved to Sydney with just our wardrobes, I had very little IT experience aside from working in a PC store as a tech and half a TAFE diploma in information systems and it too me 3 days to find a job paying $33k per year (in Adelaide I was making $23k so I was thrilled) and 2 days after that my ex-wife had an admin job despite having only ever worked retail since completing her TAFE certificate.

    Frankly, anyone who cant get a job in Sydney either doesn’t want one or isn’t trying!

    • 15 years ago you and your wife got a job easily in Sydney, therefore, its her fault she cant get a job in Sydney today… You really believe that ?

      Your implying that there are jobs for everyone in Sydney today. That if everyone tried, we could have 0.0% unemployment. That people with social problems dont want work or arent trying to find work. That people who can work and want work dont get discriminated against.

      How about you get out of your ivory tower and meet some real people.

      • I still have family in Sydney, getting a job there is simple and I still get head hunted by Sydney based recruitment companies and all I did back then was SysAdmin work.

      • If you have skills and want a job in Sydney you can get one, it’s that simple – try a much smaller market like Adelaide, now that is hard even if you’ve got skills!!!!!

  8. I saw this woman last night outside the QVB – I’d missed this story. I saw her sign and I thought it was rather bizzare. Hm, well, now I know more about her if I see her again.

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