A homeless reality

Whether the nation is experiencing an economic crisis or an economic boom, thousands of Australians experience hardship.

Homelessness is not a distant or rare issue and it affects families, adults and youth in our community.

A homeless reality will introduce you to a few people close to this national problem.

In December 2008 Kevin Rudd told the nation that homelessness in a country like Australia was simply unacceptable.

Narelle Clay, CEO of Southern Youth and Family Services and National Youth Commissioner, believes the federal governments’ white paper, The Road Home, is a step towards reducing homelessness.

“Public awareness is key to reducing homeless, along with more services and low cost accommodation.”

More than a third of Australia’s homeless are under the age of 25, that is at least 36 000 people. Double the number 20 years ago. Half will be turned away from emergency housing because services are full.

“There remain significant barriers to reducing homelessness because of the lack of adequate, affordable and secure housing and the lack of access to adequately paid, secure, full time employment for young people,” Ms Clay said.

Photo: Jacqueline Wales

Photo: Jacqueline Wales

The National Youth Commission’s reported in the Australia’s homeless youth project summary that over $1 billion in funding is needed over the next ten years to address the problem.

“Failure to act will diminish the integrity of Australia’s national core value of ‘a fair go’ for all. We are at a moment in time which will either be seen in retrospect as a watershed for change, or an opportunity lost forever,” reports the NYC.

Already thousands of people, including youth, in the Illawarra receive assistance from SYFS and the number of those in need of help is certain to rise with the economic crisis.

Budget response

After the budget was announced it seemed that the Illawarra had been short changed but the University was successful yet again. Locals were left wondering why high profile public concerns such as the Picton Rd, Princes Hwy and Maldon-Dombarton rail link were largely ignored. Federal member for Cunningham, Sharon Bird, spent this week in defending the decisions. Here’s what she had to say about some of the decisions in the Illawarra.

Judy Raper, Deputy Vice Chancellor at the University of Wollongong, spoke on why the University is so successful in attracting funds over other projects. She said the application process has been largely misrepresented, and that not enough has been done to make the community aware of the monumental work planned for the centre and the benefits it can bring to the region.

There were budget decisions other then infrastructure plans that will affect the Illawarra community. Federal member for Gilmore, Jo Gash, is concerned not only about the lack of infrastructure funding, but also some of the announcements that were generally received well. Listen in to what she had to say on the promise of broadband and how much of her electorate will miss out.

Ms Gash also spoke of concerns voiced by older residents who are worried they will be worse off with the pension increase.

Jo Gash is primarily concerned about the lack of funding for the Princes Hwy. She lays the blame on our state MP’s saying that she was of the impression that Matt Brown, the State Member for Kiama, would apply for federal funding to upgrade the Berri by-pass. This past week, it has become apparent that an application was not even drafted.

There has been a lot of anger directed at the state government about a shortfall of funding in NSW.

David Campbell, the Minister for the Illawarra and Transport,  spoke to Crossfire about the criticism.

For more information on the budget visit the federal governments 2009-10 Commonwealth budget website.

Changes for unmarried couples

What happens when you are in a de facto relationship and everything turns sour?

Since the 1st of March unmarried couples, in a separation, will be open to the same claims and treatment by the courts as a marital divorce.

Family courts will be able to make decisions on the distribution of property, superannuation and children. These laws also apply to same-sex couples.

A seminar about the laws and what they mean will be held next Tuesday at the City Gallery. Peter Chodat of Kells Lawyers took the time to explain the laws and what they mean for unmarried couples this afternoon to Crossfire.

For more information on the seminar call Kells Lawyers on 42219321

The Illawarra comes together to help the Bushfire victims

Australia mourned for the victims of the Black Saturday Bushfires in Victoria which has killed at least 210 people. Fires have ravaged through parts of the state for the past three weeks but many have said the day of mourning has come too soon after the wide spread devastation. Ten police officers from the region were deployed along with another 150 from the state to help relieve Victorian firefighters. Various emergency volunteers also joined the team from the Illawarra to help out those in the devastated areas including 21 firefighters from the Illawarra, Macarthur, Wollondilly and Sutherland areas. But it’s not only the emergency services in the region who have selflessly volunteered. Businesses and individuals in the Illawarra have come together to support the Victorian Bushfire Appeal with numerous events organised to raise money for those in need. Club Captain of Thirroul Surf Life Saving Club Lachlan Pritchard organised a bucket drive to send funds to the vitcims of the fires. I spoke to Lachlan last week to discuss his motivation for organising the drive and how the local community got involved.

Interview with Club Captain of Thirroul Surf Life Saving Club Lachlan Pritchard

Other events which will be held in the region include

– Friday March 6, Upstairs at the North Wollongong Pub with every person’s $10 entry fee going to the Victorian Bushfire Appeal.

$42 billion dollar stimulus packages the senate… Thanks to Mr Xenophon

The Federal Government’s $42 billion dollar stimulus package passed the senate ealier today, but at a cost. The Prime Minister agreed to give South Australian Independent Senator Nick Xenphon $900 million dollars to push forward future projects for the Murray Darling Basin in return for his vote. The $12 billion one off payments will be paid to low and middle income families and workers from mid March. However the payment amount has changed from the original package. Single income families’ payments has been cut from $950 to $900, people with a taxable income of less than $80,000 will also recieve the reduced amount of $900. While those earning between $80,000 and $90,000 will receive $600 instead of the original $650 and those with a taxable income between $90,000 and $100,000 will also receive $50 less with a payment of $250. The deal couldn’t have been struck without the Greens decision yesterday to accept the stimulus package with a $435 million dollar deal which lead to the payments being cut by $50 for each group. More than $28 billion dollars will go towards school repairs, building news homes while $50 million will go towards help for the unemployed and churches, charities and grass-root job creation schemes will also benefit from the stimulus package’s $300 million allocated to these institutions. The finer details of the stimulus package will be announced this week.

Will Australia have a Bill of Rights?

In December last year the Federal Government used the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to discuss the possibility of legislating a human rights charter. The document would not be based on the America charter which allows courts to override laws but on those legislated in the ACT, Victoria and Britain. I spoke to the Dean of Law at the University of Wollongong, Professor Luke McNamara about the likelihood of Australian gaining a Bill of Rights and the consequences of legislating such a charter.

Interview with the Dean of Law at the University of Wollongong, Professor Luke McNamara

Hi there listeners

Jacqui here, just thought I’d say hi from the Indonesian city of Jakarta will I have been for the past two days and will be for the next seven weeks doing a journalism internship.
Happy New Year.
Jacqui