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Episode 25: Homelessness Crisis in Australia

A homeless woman sits on a street corner in central Brisbane, Friday, June 9, 2017.

Every year, there are more and more homeless people on the streets in Australia. Since 2011, the number of homeless people has grown by 14 per cent.

SBS Italian news, with a slower pace. This is Slow Italian, Fast Learning, the very best of the week’s news, read at a slower pace, with Italian and English text available.

Italian

Ogni anno cresce il numero dei senzatetto in Australia. Dal 2011, il numero delle persone senza fissa dimora è salito del 14%.

La dottoressa Evelyne Tadros dirige Mission Australia nel New South Wales. A suo parere la situazione è drammatica.

"The homelessness situation in New South Wales and in Australia is quite devastating. There are still in Australia 116 427 people classified as being homeless, and of those, 44% are from a country of birth other than Australia. So it's still quite a serious issue we're facing."

Ci sono varie ragioni per cui il numero dei senzatetto sta crescendo in tutta la nazione, ma la mancanza di accessibilità del mercato immobiliare è la più ovvia.

Jenny Smith dirige il Council to Homeless Persons e presiede Homelessness Australia. A suo parere l'Australia non ha un piano nazionale per affrontare il problema dell'accessibilità del mercato immobiliare.

"We don't have any plan for the government to intervene to make sure that there is housing for people on lower income. We expect the market to take care of it, but we've just had 30 to 40 years of unparalleled prosperity in our country and the market hasn't taken care of it. Governments have gotten out of the business of providing social housing and until they get back in the business of doing that, we will see homelessness continue to increase, and to increase more quickly."

Per Jenny Smith è importante che la gente capisca che sono problemi come la violenza domestica e la difficoltà di affittare o acquistare case che rendono le persone senzatetto, non una vulnerabilità degli individui.

Guardando i numeri, si nota che gli immigrati sono sovrarappresentati tra i senzatetto. Secondo Evelyne Tadros, oltre alla difficoltà di trovare alloggio a prezzi accessibili, i nuovi immigrati devono fare fronte ad altre sfide.

"People from linguistically diverse communities and people from a refugee background often face disconnection from family, school, community, and there are major precursors to homelessness for young refugees, for instance. As well, they can face additional stresses when settling in Australia, including adjustment to language, culture and education. Some of them might have a lack of understanding of tenancy rights and risk exploitation by landlords. We do know that the stats indicate refugees have lower labour force participation than other immigrant groups due to the lack of recognised qualification and work experience."

Se siete senza fissa dimora o siete a rischio di diventarlo, ci sono vari modi di affontare il problema e chiedere aiuto.

Alcune organizzazioni possono aiutarvi a negoziare coi proprietari della vostra casa, trovarvi un alloggio d'emergenza e fornirvi pasti caldi.

Ogni stato ha un proprio sistema. Se preferite parlare in una lingua che non sia l'inglese, Evelyne Tadros ricorda che è disponibile un servizio di interpretariato.

"All our services on the ground, depending on which area the service is provided in, we provide bilingual workers and we also have access to the Translating and Interpreting Service. For Mission Australia, depending on the community we're in, we try to bring in bilingual workers rather than the interpreting and translating service."

Se avete la fortuna di avere una casa, secondo Jenny Smith la prima cosa che potete fare per dare una mano a chi è in difficoltà è essere gentili e generosi, ma anche pensare a chi votate.

"The most important thing is that people are kind to people who are experiencing difficulties, and within that kindness, do what they can within their resources. The other really important thing that people need to do is to ask the question, every time they go to a federal, state or local election is 'Does the party I'm voting for have a housing and homelessness policy?'. Do the work to make sure the party they want to vote for has that policy or vote for the party that does have that policy".

 


 

English

Every year, there are more and more homeless people on the streets in Australia. Since 2011, the number of homeless people has grown by 14 per cent.

Dr. Evelyne Tadros is Mission Australia state leader for New South Wales. She paints a bleak picture.

"The homelessness situation in New South Wales and in Australia is quite devastating. There are still in Australia 116 427 people classified as being homeless, and of those, 44% are from a country of birth other than Australia. So it's still quite a serious issue we're facing."

There are a few reasons why the homelessness numbers are rising around the country, but the lack of affordable housing is the most obvious one.Jenny Smith is the CEO of the Council to Homeless Persons and the Chair of Homelessness Australia. She explains that Australia doesn't have a national plan to tackle housing affordability.

"We don't have any plan for the government to intervene to make sure that there is housing for people on lower income. We expect the market to take care of it, but we've just had 30 to 40 years of unparalleled prosperity in our country and the market hasn't taken care of it. Governments have gotten out of the business of providing social housing and until they get back in the business of doing that, we will see homelessness continue to increase, and to increase more quickly."

She says it's important for people to understand that issues like family violence and housing affordability cause homelessness, not individual vulnerabilities. When we look at the numbers, we can see that migrants are disproportionately affected by homelessness. Evelyne Tadros says that on top of having trouble finding affordable housing, they face additional challenges.

"People from linguistically diverse communities and people from a refugee background often face disconnection from family, school, community, and there are major precursors to homelessness for young refugees, for instance. As well, they can face additional stresses when settling in Australia, including adjustment to language, culture and education. Some of them might have a lack of understanding of tenancy rights and risk exploitation by landlords. We do know that the stats indicate refugees have lower labour force participation than other immigrant groups due to the lack of recognised qualification and work experience."

If you are on the brink of homeless or are already homeless, there are ways to get help. Organisations can help you negotiate with your landlord, find emergency housing and provide a warm meal.

Each state will have its own system. If you'd prefer speaking in a language other than English, Evelyne Tadros says that bilingual workers and interpreters are available.

"All our services on the ground, depending on which area the service is provided in, we provide bilingual workers and we also have access to the Translating and Interpreting Service. For Mission Australia, depending on the community we're in, we try to bring in bilingual workers rather than the interpreting and translating service."

If you're lucky enough to have a roof over your head, Jenny Smith says that the first thing you can do to help is to be kind.

"The most important thing is that people are kind to people experiencing difficulties, and within that kindness, do what they can within their resources. The other really important thing that people need to do is to ask the question, every time they go to a federal, state or local election is ' Does the party I'm voting for have a housing and homelessness policy?'. Do the work to make sure the party they want to vote for has that policy or vote for the party that does have that policy."

Report by Audrey Bourget

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