Homelessness rising in Australia: study

Updated 05 June 2013
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Homelessness rising in Australia: study

SYDNEY: Homelessness in Australia has surged 17 percent since 2006 mainly due to a spike in migrant numbers, though fewer people are sleeping rough on the streets, a report found Wednesday.
The National Affordable Housing Agreement report, prepared by the government’s COAG Reform Council, found that overall housing security had declined from 2006 to 2011.
While the number of “rough sleepers” — those living on the streets — had fallen six percent to 6,813, the overall amount of people considered homeless had ballooned 17 percent to 105,237.
Council chairman John Brumby said Australia was now unlikely to meet its target of reducing homelessness by seven percent this year, blaming growing levels of crowding and temporary housing.
“This report defines the many faces of homelessness,” Brumby said.
The rise in the homelessness figure was fueled by severe crowding, which is defined as a home where there are more than two people sleeping per bedroom and at least three extra bedrooms are required to reduce the burden.
Two-thirds of the 41,390 people living in severely crowded homes were born overseas and likely to be recent migrants, the report found.
Australia is facing record inflows of asylum-seekers arriving on people-smuggling boats from Southeast Asia, with numbers expected to top 25,000 in the year to June 30.
To reduce the burden on immigration detention facilities the government has been forced to release thousands of applicants into the community on spartan welfare with a ban on working.
Charity groups have been forced to meet the shortfall, providing shelter, food and medicine for refugees struggling to make ends meet.
Aboriginal Australians living in crowded dwellings in the remote Northern Territory account for 11.2 percent of the nation’s homeless.
Aborigines, Australia’s most disadvantaged minority, are 14 times more likely to be homeless than their non-indigenous counterparts, according to the report.
Brumby welcomed the fall in rough sleeping — “what most people think of as homelessness” — as significant.
“They are some of the most disadvantaged Australians, those who sleep without a proper bed or shelter, so any fall in the number is welcomed,” he said.
The COAG (Council of Australian Governments) Reform Council monitors progress on key government benchmarks including health care, education, disability and indigenous reform.


Almost $30 million seized in raids linked to Malaysian ex-PM

Updated 12 min 33 sec ago
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Almost $30 million seized in raids linked to Malaysian ex-PM

  • The money was seized along with 284 boxes containing designer handbags, as well as watches and jewelry from a condominium in Kuala Lumpur
  • Public disgust at allegations of corruption swirling around Najib was a major factor for the loss

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian police said Friday they found cash amounting to almost $30 million in a raid on a luxury apartment as they probed corruption allegations swirling around ousted leader Najib Razak.
The money was seized along with 284 boxes containing designer handbags, as well as watches and jewelry from a condominium in Kuala Lumpur, which was raided along with Najib’s home and other sites last week.
Najib’s coalition was thrown out of power for the first time in over six decades in the May 9 poll, defeated by a reformist alliance headed by his former mentor Mahathir Mohamad.
Public disgust at allegations of corruption swirling around Najib was a major factor for the loss, with the ex-leader, his family and cronies accused of looting billions of dollars from sovereign wealth fund 1MDB.
There has been much speculation about what the seized goods consisted of and their value after five trucks were reportedly brought in to help move the vast stash.
Giving an update, the police’s head of commercial crime Amar Singh said: “From the money found, there were 26 currencies, the total amount as of yesterday is 114 million ($28.6 million).”
The money was found in 35 bags while another 37 bags contained watches and jewelry, he told a press conference. The value of other items will be calculated later, he said.
The seizure of the luxury goods added to public scorn of Najib’s wife Rosmah Mansor, long reviled by Malaysians for her perceived haughty demeanour and reported vast collection of designer bags, clothing and jewelry.
Her love of overseas shopping trips, as middle class Malaysians struggle with rising living costs, added to a sense of spreading, deeply-entrenched rot in the country’s long-ruling elite.
The couple’s fall from grace has been swift and hard.
They have been barred from leaving the country and the ex-premier has been questioned by anti-graft investigators over claims 1MDB money ended up in his bank accounts, and looks likely to be charged.
Najib and the fund deny any wrongdoing.