Opinion

Homeless suffer year-round

By Shepparton News

For one week a year, the media pays close attention to homelessness.

Readers may have noticed various outlets dedicating resources to the issue last Sunday to Saturday, including The News.

This is standard practice during Homelessness Week.

Funding-starved organisations take advantage of the all-too-brief spotlight. Case studies are rolled out. Chief executive are made available. Measures of success and failure are analysed and discussed.

And the circus rolls on.

This week media consumers will probably notice a larger than usual number of science-related articles as National Science Week takes its turn at centre stage.

And out of the spotlight, people still sleep rough, still rely on the kindness of family and friends for a couch or a bed, still face the despair and insecurity of not having a permanent place to rest.

Those people include nearly 20000 Australian children younger than 12 and 30000 children overall, according to Homelessness Australia data.

At the other end of the age spectrum, 2000 people older than 75 are homeless. It is difficult to imagine what sort of challenges these people face.

Overall, 100000 Australians live in this kind of abject poverty and if we are to judge ourselves by how well we treat our most disadvantaged, then we should judge ourselves harshly.

Statistically, homelessness affects some groups more than others. People aged between 25 and 34 are the most vulnerable, as are Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islanders.

Those born overseas are also overrepresented; 30 per cent of all homeless were not born in Australia.

In 51 weeks’ time, Homelessness Week will return and with it another flurry of reports, but for those 100000 it is just another week of insecurity, as this is just another week of the same.

We cannot allow such an important issue to fall off the radar for 358 days a year, and as an organisation, The News will not.