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Issue #1713      December 2, 2015


Census data shows that 50 to 60 percent of free standing houses in inner and middle suburbs in Sydney and Melbourne are occupied by people aged 50 and over. They bought these houses many years ago when those suburbs were unpopular and neglected. They also paid 18 percent interest rates in the 1980s to own their homes. In other words, they worked hard to save for their homes and raise their families. Now there is a suggestion that they should “move on” because there is a strong demand from young families for their properties. A report released last week suggests that unless these older Australians downsize, “they will be occupying much of the existing stock of detached houses”. National Seniors Australia chief executive Michael O’Neill said the idea that older people should move out of their own homes was “offensive”. He pointed out that there were also significant practical reasons why older people were not leaving the homes they had set up 30 or 40 years ago. Community links were vital for everybody but especially for older people who have strong connections with their neighbours, local doctors and chemist shops. Policy makers and planners should not be trying to accommodate one section of the community at the expense of another. Young families do need support and assistance but kicking older people from their homes is not the solution.

Accommodation, or rather the lack of it, seems to be a problem everywhere, even in prisons. NSW prisons are so overcrowded that there was even a suggestion that mattresses should be put on the floor and three prisoners should be put to a cell instead of two. The number of adult prisoners in NSW has risen from 9,897 in June 2013 to 12,250 in November 2015. With prisons packed to the brim, what sort of rehabilitation can be talked about?

“We don’t cross-examine survivor witnesses. It’s always been our policy. We don’t wish to run the risk of re-traumatising them”, said Francis Sullivan, chief executive of the Catholic Church’s Truth, Justice and Healing Council (TJHC). He was referring to child sex abuse victims who testify before the Royal Commission. The TJHC has been represented by law firm Gilbert and Tobin in the royal commission and has not cross-examined any of the victims. Cardinal George Pell is to appear before the commission in December and he did engage a legal team to cross-examine the victims. His excuse is that serious allegations have been made against him personally and that’s why he needed his own lawyers to assist him. So much for caring about the abused.

Next article – Region Briefs

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