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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 11 July 2015
NEWS 8 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 11 JULY 2015 DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM Varvaris sleepover for homeless Federal MP Nickolas Varvaris is sleeping out for those without a home, but what are the Liberals doing for housing affordability? ANTHONY STAVRINOS Nickolas Varvaris will expose himself to the elements tonight in his second charity sleep out at WIN Jubilee Oval in Kogarah. Joining rugged-up locals, the Liberal Member for Barton, with only a sleeping bag and a cardboard box to keep warm, is braving the elements to raise awareness of the plight of homeless people. Speaking to Neos Kosmos, Mr Varvaris recalled the chilly experience of his first such outing in 2013. "I parked myself in the middle of the oval and there was ice covering my sleeping bag when I got up in the morning," said the MP. "It's obviously challenging. I used to do a fair bit of camping, but I won't say I know what it's like to be homeless on a day-to-day basis." Statistics drawn from the latest census and from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare show that there are about 105,000 homeless people across the country, with young Australians making up nearly half that figure. Forty-two per cent of all homeless people are aged 24 years or under, and while being homeless might be a world away from those potential home-buyers frozen out of the market due to soaring prices, they're certainly both rungs of the same ladder. In a recent reader poll by The Sydney Morning Herald asking whether the federal government should do more to tackle the problem of housing affordability, 88 per cent of the 13,500 respondents answered in the affirmative. Those readers are unlikely to have been won over by Joe Hockey's much-publicised remark that all first-home buyers needed was to "get a good job that pays good money". For Varvaris, the treasurer's comment was taken out of context. "What he was basically implying was that the harder you work and the more effort the simple equation of supply and demand. That ultimately determines housing affordability." Varvaris says delay in local you put in then obviously the more reward you're going to get." One thing the government has been doing to improve the situation, says Varvaris, is to "clamp down" on overseas buyers. Foreign ownership laws restrict foreign buyers to purchases of new housing stock, but Varvaris said that in the last six years of the Labor government, there were no recorded breaches of those rules. Varvaris says the Abbott government has focused efforts to ensure compliance, adding that the habit of multiple dwelling developments getting approval and then being primarily marketed overseas is unfair. "There's no opportunity for local buyers who were hoping to get themselves into the residential market. "Having come from local government, it's my longheld view that if you really want to make housing more affordable, it comes down to government approval of new housing developments was also a contributing factor affecting supply. Labor has criticised the NSW government for its proportionately low reinvestment of vast revenues from stamp duty into the newlyannounced, $400 million Housing Infrastructure Fund. Varvaris says what's important is that funds are being used to increase the level of infrastructure in areas where housing stock is being increased. "As long as there's investment in infrastructure that supports that increase in accommodation, that's what you need." Property agent, Harry Triandas, who has offices covering south Sydney, including the Barton electorate, says housing affordability is becoming a significant problem and "locking up" of properties needed urgent attention. "I think we need to deal with it sooner rather than later," Mr Triandas told Neos Kosmos. "Locking up has been a com- mon problem in the past - just purchasing a property and locking it up. It should be going into some kind of rental pool." He applauds the government's stance on foreign buyers. "As a country we've got to Cuts to aged care slammed As the demand for aged care facilities increases, the government continues to cut funding ANASTASIA TSIRTSAKIS The Abbot government has come under fire for being "unresponsive" and "poorly advised" on aged care, placing facilities and workers under unnecessary strain. The comments follow the recent release of the government's Aged Care Subsidies and Supplement, which show subsidies at an indexation rise of just 1.3 per cent - a figure that doesn't come close to the consumer price index estimated at over four per cent. In a recent statement, chief executive officer of Leading Age Services Australia (LASA Victoria) Trevor Carr said, "aged care is oversubscribed, under-supplied and understaffed and to add salt to injury it seems our ageing Aus- tralia is poorly represented". He also claimed that consecutive federal budgets have cut a hefty $700 million from aged care providers, subsequently affecting the industry and recipients of aged care. General manager of operations at Fronditha Care Jim Scantsonihas was unwilling to make a statement regarding the government, though he agrees that the aged care sector is facing challenging times. "Some of the things that other providers are saying are that the costs of running an aged care facility are going up and the subsidies or the funding that's coming through is not increasing at the same rate, which makes it harder," Mr Scantsonihas told Neos Kosmos. Though he says the level of look at this. This is going to be a national problem. "I think it's important enough to say that we are running out of resources and at this point in time we have to start looking at and protecting both our natural and housing resources." care being provided has increased, and disputes that all aged care facilities are understaffed. "From Fronditha's point of view I think we staff our facilities adequately. "It's the expectation of the people who come into aged care thinking that there's going to be one-on-one care, and that's just not possible. It's not like being at home and cared for by your family," he explains. However, the fact remains that if Victoria is to adequately cater to the 35,000 additional residential aged care places required in the next 15 years, the sector must source $9 billion of residential capital investment. "It's undisputed that our population is ageing. The population of people from 65 on will increase going forward, including the number of people who require dementia-specific care. "We need to be able to have facilities that are updated and be able to cope with the demand. We also have providers who may have facilities that need upgrading or refurbishment, and that needs to be addressed as well," said Mr Scantsonihas. This year's budget announcement also will see $40 million cut from the Aged Care Workforce Development Fund, which Mr Carr says is "counter productive given workforce availability will shrink in the next 30 years". "Aged care will be forced to compete for a shrinking workforce in a highly competitive market environment."
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