Dawn Walker, John Lee and Larissa Waters talk about the impact of the recent storms on the homeless at the 'You Have A Friend' food bank.
Dawn Walker, John Lee and Larissa Waters talk about the impact of the recent storms on the homeless at the 'You Have A Friend' food bank.

Homeless soaked in weekend’s wild weather

A HOMELESS man sleeping on a table in Goodwin Park, Coolangatta awoke early Sunday morning to find himself surrounded by water during the weekend’s wild weather.

“He woke up at 2 o’clock and the water was about two inches below him,” said homeless worker John Lee from Tweed Heads-based charity You Have a Friend.

The man had to wade through the water in the wet and dark and believes he could easily have drowned.

Mr Lee picked him up the next morning from a local bus shelter where he waited out the rest of the night.

“When we caught up with him he was soaked, wrapped up in a wet sleeping bag,” Mr Lee recalled.

That’s just one of the many stories Mr Lee shared with Greens candidate for Richmond, Dawn Walker, and Greens Deputy Leader Senator Larissa Waters during a meeting on Monday in which the pair outlined their party’s policy to help the homeless.

The Greens have pledged to double funding services for homelessness under the original National Affordable Housing Agreement, and index the funding by 7%, at a cost of $507 million per annum.

Ms Walker said the Northern Rivers had 4% of the NSW population but 20% of the state’s rough sleepers lived in our region.

“It’s heartbreaking that so many people are sleeping rough in the Northern Rivers and it shows the desperate need for funding for homelessness services,” Ms Walker said.

“Nationally, one in every three people who seek help from homelessness services are doing so due to domestic and family violence.

“We Greens believe it’s grossly unfair that the very wealthy get taxpayer-funded subsidies to buy multiple properties in the form of negative gearing, while so many others have nowhere to sleep, including women who are fleeing violence.”

The Greens are also proposing phasing out negative gearing and the capital gains discount, saving $119.5 billion over 10 years.

“These reforms would provide more than enough revenue to double funding for specialist homelessness services at a cost to the federal government of $827 million per year,” Ms Waters said.

“It’s outrageous that national policies make it easier to buy your fourth home rather than your first.

“Specialist homelessness services are chronically underfunded and while staff at these services work hard to stretch the inadequate funding, they are having to turn people away, leaving people to sleep on the street and women to return to violent relationships.”

Mr Lee recently complained to the Tweed Daily News that the plight of the poor and disadvantaged was getting little attention during this election campaign.

His outspokenness appears to have sparked local federal politicians into action a couple of whom have since made contact.

Mr Lee said the Greens was the only party he was aware of to date to put out a specific policy addressing homelessness, but he was open to hearing what the other parties were advocating.

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