While we bundle up against the cold weather on the east coast, freezing temperatures can be a matter of life and death for the most vulnerable in our community — and their struggle warranted barely a mention during an election campaign that focused on Mediscare and superannuation.

The number of people sleeping rough in Melbourne has nearly doubled in the past two years, but our federal politicians are saying little about the problem.

The Reform of the Federation white paper, which is being worked out now, is likely to recommend passing the issue of homelessness and homeless services on to the states and charities (details are expected at the end of this year). But the problem of people sleeping outside in the freezing cold is a real, pressing one right now, and it’s time our pollies stop and help rather than walking on by.

Peter Fray

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