On Boxing Day it behoves us to consider the plight of the destitute and the homeless. Cities and towns across Australia all seem to have skid rows or no-go areas and, sadly, the numbers congregating in these places are increasing. How can this happen in our affluent society?
As freeways transect the city, inner suburbs become gentrified and local councils impose "dry zones", and night refuges close because they can't meet government measures of performance, homeless people are being funnelled into zones of hopelessness. Add housing and income-support policies that are increasingly short term and outcome driven and the punishing sanctions on those who fail the work tests imposed by government, and we have a pincer movement of social pressure squeezing the most vulnerable into insecure housing or on to the streets.
Politicians and administrators often ignore the homeless, opting for glossier issues or, worse, blame them for their misfortune when it's a national problem that every community needs to address urgently.
Read on for more details.
Also today Bill Leak 's cartoon "Joseph goes for another miracle", showing Joseph preparing to watch the test on a borrowed TV while Mary feeds the infant Jesus, is another comment on our current values.