Itâ€™s Winter again and across the Uniting Church and its UnitingCare community care network , aid demand for those doing it tough is spiking again â€“ just like last year and the year before that, and before thatâ€¦
Are we ever doing enough as a society to improve the lives of the growing amount of those who need it? The demographic of people seeking help grows increasingly complex as the gap between the wealthy and the poor widens.
Each year, almost like clockwork, stories come out about the growing difficulty of some in the community. After a while, people could easily feel apathetic to what might seem to the â€˜same old storyâ€™ with little solution. After all, â€˜tough timesâ€™ is a relative term and many who do not fit the definition of homeless can also be under mounting financial and mental pressure.
And this is exactly the point. Social justice agencies continue to see vast changes in people suffering various spirals of poverty. These can be people from dual-income families, people experiencing a shocking traumatic mental condition or a debilitating injury for the first time. It can hit them quick and it can be very hard to pull themselves out of it, even with help.
The Melbourne City Councilâ€™s annual homeless people count recently tallied 101 people living rough in various outdoor areas around the city. Last yearâ€™s total was 105, it was back to 101 in 2010, 75 in 2009 and 112 in 2008.
The count has never been an exact science, and it is a given that these totals donâ€™t catch all the homeless. Previous counts have sometimes not been able to identify the gender of some, as their physical appearance can look undiscernible.
Even though housing shortages are seen as one bearer of this problem, as a Crosslight feature explained last year, many homeless people have extremely difficult and complex traumatised life histories and accommodation in itself is not enough to solve their mental health problems.
But these people are just the thin edge of the growing homeless problem wedge. There is no registry of those who are subsisting in boarding houses, or those who are itinerantly living on peopleâ€™s couches and in cars.
So, with the exception of the missions and community agencies which are seeing many more people seek emergency aid relief and ongoing crisis support on a regular basis, the problem can be largely unseen by society.
What else do you think needs to be done to improve the homelessness problem?
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