Poverty – A World Problem
The statistics on poverty around the world are horrific to read. While I accept that it is a World Problem, it is also a major problem in Australia. It is the latter that I wish to address in this post.
We call this the “Lucky Country” and in many ways it is, but for a wide range of reasons. But our luck is drying up somewhat, and many of our citizens are facing poverty right now in 2019! And it seems like governments are ignoring the situation. Perhaps they do not know how to deal with it, so choose to ignore it.
Many factors are responsible – and I don’t know them all. Unemployment is certainly one of them, adequate and affordable housing is another. I have no doubt that if the housing situation were fixed, poverty would be reduced. If people cannot afford a home, several things occur. Health deteriorates, they can’t find work, they are at risk of violence.
There are some folk who choose or have no alternative to living rough. The picture many people have of homeless people is that they are perhaps on drugs, alcohol and at nights sleep in doorways, behind buildings, or wherever they can get a space to drop their meagre belongings and try and sleep. Many live in vehicles, tents, old sheds and more.
Risks of Homelessness
It was with great sadness that I read today of a homeless man being bashed on the Gold Coast. It is not a rare occurrence though, and many have their belongings stolen, and these people live in desperation as they feel they have no future.
The health budget is increased as not having the comfort of one’s own home and bed, increases the chance of getting ill, and needing public housing. Some stats prove that there are significant savings to government health budgets if homelessness is reduced. It will help reduce poverty in the world and Australia.
What are governments doing?
In Australia, it seems that they are doing little. While there are large amounts of funding available for housing, and in Australia the Federal Government supplies these funds to states to provide affordable/ public housing, I suspect that too much is spent on the many organisations in the field and the expenses of running them.
I find it hard to comprehend why in Queensland there is a long waiting list for public housing. That is what some people have been told. The current statistics are hard to find.
There are supposedly up to date statistics, but I doubt that they are correct. For example, I know of many women who are couch surfing, house sitting, living in vehicles (as I have done) and these are not usually listed on the statistics.
Just Build More Accommodation
Finland in Europe is recognised as the only country in the world that has obliterated homelessness, and how did they do it. There are many articles, but these two are worth reading.
“All this costs money,” admits Kaakinen. “But there is ample evidence from many countries that shows it is always more cost-effective to aim to end homelessness instead of simply trying to manage it. Investment in ending homelessness always pays back, to say nothing of the human and ethical reasons.”
Is poverty in Australia causing more crime?
I often wonder if there would be less crime if people were happily housed, with less need to commit crime to solve their poverty. People would have less stress and not be as angry or likely to snap and use violence to cope.
What can be done in Australia?
- Give tax incentives for people to invest in public housing, rather than investing in upmarket residences.
- Create an education program where young people, especially those without employment or qualifications, where they are taught building skills while they build housing.
- Look at co-housing for different groups, so that there is less need for public servants to be involved in day-to-day management of housing projects.
- Consider building accommodation in welcoming regional areas, which will add to the economy of the area with more people to spend money.
- Be creative to solve the problem – there are probably many more ideas that can be used to solve the problem.
I will continue to work with SoSeW to find co-housing for Solo Senior Women, a group that is at high risk of homelessness. Another story.