Homelessness is a serious problem in Australia, and the number of people sleeping rough on the streets in our cities constantly increasing. Homeless services have been quietly cut quite drastically since Tony Abbott became prime minister in 2013, with the government signalling that low-income housing should fall in the responsibility of the community and charity sector.

According to Homelessness Australia, there are currently 105,237 people in Australia who are known to be homeless. A homeless man in Australia has a life expectancy of only 45 years.

Despite all this, it’s still illegal to beg everywhere but New South Wales, Western Australia and the ACT. On The Project last night, Waleed Aly asked why.

Fined for Being Poor

Waleed talks about the real reason begging is illegal #TheProjectTVWritten by Waleed Aly & Tom Whitty (@twhittyer)

Posted by The Project on Monday, March 28, 2016

Aly raises the common defence of laws against begging – they stop people who have drug dependencies from buying more – but argues that governments who cut social services and spending on housing are giving the homeless little other option.

And yet, the penalties for begging are often fines. Aly raises the figure of $250 – and you have to wonder how someone being prosecuted for begging could raise those funds.

Sobering stuff.

Source: The Project.

Photo: The Project.