SOCIAL ISSUES: Executive director of The Family Centre, David Boutkan, said councils should be given power to include social housing in new developments.
SOCIAL ISSUES: Executive director of The Family Centre, David Boutkan, said councils should be given power to include social housing in new developments. John Gass

Mums and kids squatting in containers, tents and cars

TWEED Shire single mum families were being forced to squat in tents, shipping containers and their cars in unhygienic conditions because of the lack of affordable housing, a forum has heard.

The shortage of affordable housing was cited as the most serious social issue facing the Tweed Shire by local social community service workers at a NSW Council of Social Services Community (NCOSS) consultation session this week at The Family Centre in Tweed Heads South.

Thirteen local social service workers took part in the session which is seeking feedback from such workers across the state about poverty and disadvantage to help shape NSW Budget spending.

The Family Centre's executive director David Boutkan, who participated, said some of the solutions put forward to address housing pressures in a brain-storming session included giving councils the power to ensure affordable housing was included in major developments and more social housing.

 

You Have A Friend's John Lee says feedback given at the NCOSS session was consistent with what he sees.
You Have A Friend's John Lee says feedback given at the NCOSS session was consistent with what he sees. Blainey Woodham / Tweed Daily Ne

John Lee from Tweed Heads-based homeless charity You Have a Friend said he knew of people who were living in tents, cars, storage sheds and doorways.

Other issues to emerge at the forum was a shortage in domestic violence support services, unemployment, cost of living pressures, health and transport.

Some of those in attendance criticised the quality of the new centralised arrangements put in place by On Track Community Programs after the organisation cut the Tweed Valley Women's Service's (TVWS) domestic violence contract and took over the service.

The move away from face-to-face services offered by organisations like TVWS to a centralised hotline was criticised as fostering "efficiency not effectiveness".

Domestic violence victims were falling through the cracks because they did not fit On Track's criteria for assistance, it was claimed.

NCOSS campaign manager Mel Fernandez, who presided over the session, said they were hearing consistently that the centralisation of emergency relief services around the state was not working.

Ms Fernandez said the Social Innovation Council (SIC) was investigating giving more weight to local organisations with grassroots and specialist knowledge in the government tendering process for service delivery.

SIC is a partnership between the NSW Government and the Forum of Non-Government Agencies established to help foster innovation in the way human services are developed, delivered and measured.



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