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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 02 December 2017
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 2 DECEMBER 2017 25 OPINION nuation will not get a lookin. In these ‘sub-human lives physical health will quickly deteriorate and cognitive health will be hit hard. Older women will be at el- evated risks and when disaggregated to migrant older women sadly at even higher risks. Many women who were mothers alone will have little savings, no superannuation, and be left to the streets to support themselves in fleeing family violence. Housing is argued as a universal right. It should be the battleground for today’s social justice warriors. Housing is the significant response to ending family violence, to improving the lot of the vulnerable, to improving health, to improving society, to reducing the prison population. But housing must not be the rubbish dished out to the First Peoples of Australia in the town camps and in remote communities. These are shanty towns, third-world-akin shacks and concrete hotboxes where the functions and objectives of a family cannot be achieved. Finland has been embarrassing most of the rest of the world by providing permanent housing to the homeless. Almost 17,000 low cost flats have been provided to homeless people in Finland. They are no longer homeless. Finland is the one country that lives the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in terms of security of person – a home. Finland has made a significant inroad to reducing street homelessness. The Finnish strategy is known as Housing First – yes, this is the solution to homelessness and to consequent health and wellbeing: a home. PHOTO: AAP IMAGE/DAVID MOIR economic backgrounds or from war-torn or civil strife ridden regions are more likely to seek out homelessness services than those from various cultural norms that demand shame. Similarly many homeless migrants from former middle class backgrounds are overwhelmed and reduced by shame. However within a generation the shame will be gone, and more will seek support to relieve their pain and suf- fering. Public housing could change all this. But governments do not listen despite one report after another. A recent Mission Australia report describes a crisis, a critical shortage of public housing, and calls for more public housing. Today, more younger Australians are homeless than older Australians, but by 2040 with 500,000 million Australians I believe will be registered as homeless, this will shift. Today we have 20,000 children homeless aged 12 years and younger, by 2040 we will have close to 100,000. Half the homelessness will be older Australians. The rise of poverty in Australia is indisputable, and the unaffordability of life and an increasing accumulation of life stresses will buckle a greater proportion of Australians than ever before into homelessness. The Age Pension is, for many, unliveable – a maximum of $447 per week for single people and $674 for couples. For those without adequate superannuation, without their own home by retirement age it will be a diabolical struggle to survive. The next 20 years will see an alarming spike in the number of older Australians will be facing homelessness. The private rental market, already age discriminatory, will be vicious to older Aus- tralians limited to only the Age Pension. In previous research and articles, I have estimated that in 20 to 30 years the Age Pension will be worth, in today’s terms, less than $100. Rents continue to climb and private rentals are not an option for many older Australians. The future looks dastardly grim for older Australians without savings. Retirees without adequate superan- *Gerry Georgatos is the nation’s most prolific writer on suicide prevention; a suicide prevention and prison reform researcher and advocate with the non-tertiary Institute of Social Justice and Human Rights. He is a member of national projects to further develop suicide prevention, and well-being and education programs in prisons. Gerry’s research has a focus on trauma recovery and restorative approaches. He works first-hand with the homeless, impoverished, incarcerated. He is also the National Coordinator Critical Support for the National Indigenous Critical Response Service.
25 November 2017
09 December 2017