Waleed Aly has slammed the funding cuts to community programs in a gripping editorial on his “Something to Think About” segment during Channel Ten’s “The Project.” He asked a simple question, “Why is begging illegal?” The answer might not be a simple one.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Aly argued that the federal cuts introduced by Joe Hockey had only led to an increase in poverty. He went on to say that more Australians need help today. However, they were being turned away from shelters or in some states, even fined by the government for begging. This only pushed people in a financial mess.
“It’s argued that the money society gives to beggars would be better spent on homeless services but here is the problem: we are actually giving those people less money as a matter of government policy,” Aly said. “Joe Hockey’s now infamous 2014 budget slashed $70 million from community services programs and that is despite experts telling us that almost 120,000 people had to be turned away from homelessness shelters last year,” he reminded the viewers. “That’s 329 every night being told they will have to find somewhere else to sleep. And of those desperate people, 36 per cent are escaping domestic violence,” he added.
He concluded that the budget cuts have only worsened the situation. Those turned away from shelters, unfortunately, had to resort to begging. The activity is deemed illegal in many Australian states except for Western Australia, New South Wales, and the Australian Capital Territory, informs Daily Mail.
While highlighting the fines charged for the act of begging, Waleed Aly made a powerful statement that implied it is not about prolonging the circle of poverty, but a reality we don’t want to face. “Maybe, it’s the same sense of injustice in this video that makes each of us recoil, that is the thing that we don’t want to face,” he said. “Maybe the reason we’re punishing the homeless for begging us for help isn’t because we object to taking some coins out of our pocket. Maybe our real objection is to the guilt we’re forced to carry away with us when their poverty is rubbed in our face,” he concluded.