When cars and parks are 'home'

When cars and parks are 'home'

OUT of sight, out of mind, and now with even less hope. Spare a thought for the hundreds of thousands of Australians, including tens of thousands of Victorians, who are homeless. With support services severely strained due to funding constraints, most of these people face another night sleeping in parks, cars or unsuitable and impoverished dwellings.

The state budget will be released soon, and major cuts to vital housing programs and relevant support services for our homeless will come as no surprise. Welfare has never been a vote winner, so it is easy for governments to slash and cut.

With the private rental market unaffordable for many people, increasing unemployment and sub-standard wages, housing is now out of reach for many of our lower class and even what was once considered the middle class. This is reflected in the growing number of people who are seeking assistance for housing-related stress. Also, the state government is considering selling some public housing because it is "losing money". We will see a dramatic increase in the number of people left with no choice.

Richard McCahon, Blackburn

The forgotten people

THE five-year state and federally funded Young People in Residential Aged Care initiative ceased in the middle of last year. This means younger people with neurological impairment and other disabilities are again at risk of being placed in aged-care facilities. Current research being conducted by the Summer Foundation in conjunction with Monash University provides an insight into their impoverished lives, as well as their complex health conditions.

There is considerable work to be done to shape the proposed National Disability Insurance Scheme (The Age, 3/4). In the meantime, targeted initiatives such as the federal government's $60 million Supported Accommodation Innovation Fund to build community-based accommodation for adults with severe or profound disabilities are imperative for younger people who are marginalised by being in aged care, or ageing carers who struggle to meet the needs of their family member at home.

Libby Callaway, occupational therapy department, Monash University, Frankston

New approach to super

"SUPER unfair, says its creator" (The Saturday Age, 6-7/4) coincided with a report that Saint Group Australasia collapsed in 2008 owing more than $110,000, including $28,000 in unpaid staff superannuation. This happens with most company collapses, leaving low-income workers out of pocket. Another problem is the lack of superannuation collections from casual and contract workers.

Superannuation funds say they are required to invest for the highest rates of return (usually shares) rather than accept a 1 or 2 per cent lower return on socially productive investments. Why haven't industry funds, whose boards include union leaders and former MPs, argued more strongly for the law to be changed so they can invest in social infrastructure such as affordable housing, aged-care construction or research and development projects? These can be profitable investments as well as helping the community.

Megan Stoyles, Aireys Inlet

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