Letters to the editor | August 11

Women at greater risk of homelessness

During Homelessness Week 2017 it is worth understanding how the face of homelessness is changing. Although women escaping family violence have always been at risk of homelessness, these days it is middle aged and older women, with or without histories of abuse, making up a growing proportion of the homeless.

Homeless women are not always as visible as boys and men, who are more likely to sleep rough in parks and alleyways. Women are more likely to couch surf or sleep in cars for safety reasons but their lives are no less perilous.

Homelessness agencies in Goulburn care for men and women from a range of backgrounds and with different complexities; for some it is drug or alcohol addiction, for others mental illness or trauma or escape from violence.  

However, for middle-aged women the pathway may be divorce; the loss of the family home, the division of assets and then, without a long work history and only a casual job, the money left is gradually spent on rent until there is none left and eviction follows. 

I have met women who have worked all their lives and lived in homes they believed they owned until their partners left them, when the woman discovered the house was only ever in their partner’s name.

It is so important that women know the true state of their financial position and are not afraid to ask.

Goulburn is a fortunate city with wonderful local services that work well together and take good care of those at risk of homelessness.

Last financial year 593 people accessed Anglicare’s homelessness services, for example, and were provided with assistance including accommodation in their shelter or in local motels and hotels. 

The Police are also vigilant and I am advised that locally they estimate approximately two people are sleeping rough on any one night in recent weeks. I checked that number with our two main homelessness agencies, Anglicare and Mission Australia, who confirmed the number was around that. 

For the sake of comparison, during the Summer City of Sydney Homelessness Count ( which I was part of) we counted 485 people sleeping rough.

The NSW Government spends $198 million each year on specialist homelessness services but Homelessness Week is a time to thank our local services for the work they do, donate where we can to support them and reach out to those who are lonely, lost or at risk.

Any person in NSW who is homeless or at risk of homelessness can call Link2Home 24 hours a day 7 days a week on 1800 152 152

Pru Goward, Member for Goulburn, Minister for Family and Community Services and Social Housing and the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault.

Diving into mill history

I note that the old Conollys flour mill in Sloane street is up for sale. 

It has long been a concern of mine that besides the fate of the building itself, many have forgotten that there is a fully intact heated swimming pool (the first public indoor baths in Goulburn) under the floorboards of this building.

The people of Goulburn plus the Heritage Group should act now to ensure that this building and the pool do not meet the fate of the Odeon and Hoyts theatres.

Surely potential buyers of the building could be encouraged to incorporate the restored pool into a motel/hotel or an entertainment centre, perhaps with an art deco theme.

Fay Peden, Goulburn.

Parties should pay for plebiscite ‘mishandling’

We pay our politicians to work. One of their primary functions is to debate proposed legislation in Parliament. To that end, they should properly debate the merits of a bill to allow same-sex marriage. That view is independent of anyone's views on the matter.

If we voters are unhappy with the result, and/or the vote of our MP and NSW Senators, we can vote them out.

If the Liberal Party and National Party want to shirk their responsibility by having a non-binding plebiscite, then they should pay for it! Otherwise, politicians should do the job for which we pay them.

As an aside, they pushed through Work Choices legislation without a plebiscite, arguably an issue affecting many, many more people, and with much greater effects on our society.

John Harris, Goulburn.

Chaos reigns in Shorten’s vision for Australia

Bill Shorten is an enigma. He wants to hold a referendum to bring about an Australian republic at a cost of some $150 million but won’t support a plebiscite on same-sex marriage, which most Australians want. He also backs a federal government referendum on indigenous recognition.

Indigenous recognition is only tokenism that won’t resolve Aboriginal disadvantage but vandalise the Constitution and embed rights for Aboriginals not given to other Australians.

Bill is against negative gearing which will result in less rental properties. He wants to revisit the taxation system and create disparity between different economic groups in the country.

As for renewable energy, his policies will lead to huge increases in electricity prices for all.

I wonder who is advising Mr Shorten as his vision for a future Australia is one of hypocrisy and chaos.

Jay Nauss, Glen Aplin.