Sunday Territorian 5 May 2019
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Community newspapers -- Northern Territory -- Darwin.; Australian newspapers -- Northern Territory -- Darwin.
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12 OPINION SUNDAY MAY 5 2019 NTNE01Z01MA - V1 This is on the mistaken logic that non-profit organisations operating in this space dont provide front line services. Whether or not the different treatment for housing and homelessness services is by accident or design, the implications for organisations across the sector will be significant. Ultimately, the effects of re duced funding will be most acutely felt by the people that we are all trying to help. The homelessness and housing sector is badly underfunded. About half of all requests for assistance by vulnerable people go unassisted because services are seriously stretched. Three quarters of these people who need help but cant get it are women, many of whom are experiencing some form of domestic and family violence. The NT receives only 1.3 per cent of national funding allocated to homelessness services because of our small popu lation. It isnt based on our level of need. There is no logic here but little apparent appetite on the part of our political leaders to challenge and rectify this with Canberra. Australian politicians need only look across the ditch to see what real leadership on homelessness looks like. In what may be surprising to many, New Zealand is in the unenviable position of having the highest rates of homelessness in the developed world. Around 40,000 Kiwis sleep rough in cars and garages. Australia sits behind them in third place. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said last year that there was no reason why there should be homelessness in a country like New Zealand. She says that New Zealand is a country that has the prosperity and the empathy to make sure that everyone is housed. She also questioned the preoccupation with economic About half of all requests for assistance by vulnerable people go unassisted because services are seriously stretched ROAD TOLL TOUCHED by THE THIS yEAR LAST yEAR11 18 WHATS THE DEAL? WHATS the deal with the timing between light changes at the Garramilla Blvd/McMinn St intersection? The sequence gives motorists a grand total of 13 seconds to get through before changing. That means on busy weekday mornings it can turn from annoying to downright dangerous as drivers choose whether to floor it to make it through or sit for the next few minutes through another light sequence. Surely it cant be too hard to adjust the timer to give people a few extra seconds. PETER McMILLAN ONE of the lesser-known aspects of the NT Governments Budget Repair announcement from earlier this month is that non-profit organisations will be required to take a funding cut each year on the assumption that they will find more efficient ways to operate. In other words, doing the same or more with less. In announcing these measures, the Treasurer outlined that to get the budget back to a level of sustainability, nongovernment organisations needed to chip in and do their share of the heavy lifting. We were told that some tough and unpopular decisions needed to be made. It should be noted that John Langoulants report on budget repair followed extensive investigation into NT Government coffers but there has been no such review of the non-government sectors capacity to meet its service obligations to the NT Government with reduced funds. While the human services sector is supportive of measures being taken to improve the budget bottom line, the reality is that non-profit organisations exist to provide muchneeded services to vulnerable Territorians. These businesses do not exist to make profits and operating margins are negligible. Funding cuts means less capacity to provide services. Ultimately it means that programs and services are wound back to the detriment of those who need assistance. Homelessness and housing services have been dealt a particularly harsh blow, with the sector being slugged with a funding cut that is three times that of other front line services. growth when the economy had proven to be a blatant failure when it came to housing the poor. Australia is certainly a prosperous country and we sit higher up the OECD prosperity ladder than our Kiwi friends. Could it be, though, that they are giving us a masterclass in what empathy looks like? The case for more funding, not less funding, is clear. The Commonwealth government needs to step up to the plate and play its part in addressing the Territorys chronic housing and homelessness challenges. Lets face it, they have the dollars that we dont. In the current economic climate we cant expect the NT Government to do the heavy lifting. Theres no doubt that action needs to be taken to get the budget back into a healthier, sustainable shape. We all want a strong, prosperous and thriving Territory with economic growth and more jobs. But by the same token we want to see Territorians treated fairly. Getting support to the homeless is an important part of this. It is nothing less than mean spirited to expect persons who are homeless, or at risk of homelessness, to do the heavy lifting for NT budget repair challenges that were created through no fault of their own. Time will tell whether or not the additional funding cut for homelessness services will be reversed or not by the Territory Government. It will speak volumes about leadership and empathy, not just prosperity. Peter McMillan is the Executive Officer at NT Shelter NT home truths CONFIRMATION the Arafura Games will return in 2021 is good news for the hotels and city restaurants ahead of the Dry Season. While the organisation of the Games in the lead-up to the event copped some criticism, the event itself has run smoothly. The personal stories of the athletes who have travelled to compete and our own homegrown Territorian teams have warmed our hearts over the past week. The CBD and Casuarina Square have been abuzz with athletes shopping and eating and providing a busier vibe. Crowds at the basketball in Marrara, particularly for yesterdays gold medal matches, were outstanding. The Darwin-based Asian communities have supported their countrymen visiting from their homelands with great gusto. Hopefully the Top End hospitality will encourage the countries to return for 2021. With another two years of planning to come and the benefit of hindsight to reassess, adjust and improve, the second instalment after the Arafura Games 12-year hiatus should be bigger and better. Return of Arafura good news for city OPINION