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Homeless Face ‘Inhumane’ Treatment


4 August 2015 at 12:15 pm
Lina Caneva
A highly awarded Australian charity claims that Governments at all levels are guilty of failing to follow the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in their treatment of homeless people.

Lina Caneva | 4 August 2015 at 12:15 pm


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Homeless Face ‘Inhumane’ Treatment
4 August 2015 at 12:15 pm

A highly awarded Australian charity claims that Governments at all levels are guilty of failing to follow the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in their treatment of homeless people.

With Australia recognising Homelessness Prevention Week, the CEO of Swags for Homeless, Tony Clark, said that the latest figures show that 100,000 people are homeless in Australia and the 7000 who are forced to sleep on the streets have been subject to inhumane treatment, even by the authorities.

Clark said this year over 40,000 Australians will be forced to sleep on the streets and 20 per cent of those will suffer from cold weather illnesses such as frostbite, hypothermia and trench foot, some of whom will die as a result.

“This winter alone we have seen homeless people die of hypothermia, sprinklers installed to deter homeless, fire used as violence against the homeless and even the moving on of homeless across state borders by police,” Clark said.

Clark said the Universal Declaration of Human Rights included the right to shelter and that Governments were failing to uphold this right in their “inhumane” treatment of homeless people.

He said even with $115 million recently provided by the Federal Government to continue the current service response to homelessness, turn away rates from shelters remained high.

“Often these people are turned away from emergency shelters” he said.

“Homeless emergency shelters have a turn-away rate of up to 60 per cent. Providing portable, emergency relief, clean bedding for every street sleeping homeless person without shelter would cost $6 million, providing a minimal level of dignity and safety, yet this remains unfunded.”

Last month Western Australian Police Minister, Liza Harvey, claimed that the charities weren’t “doing their jobs properly” in addressing homelessness after the Department of Culture and Arts installed a motion-sensor sprinkler system in a stairwell at the King Street Arts Centre in Perth to deter people from sheltering there.

Swags for Homeless has won a slew of awards since developing the Backpack Bed, a portable bed that can be rolled out anywhere, and building a fundraising model around it.


Lina Caneva  |  Editor  |  @ProBonoNews

Lina Caneva has been a journalist for more than 35 years. She was the editor of Pro Bono Australia News from when it was founded in 2000 until 2018.

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