HOMELESSNESS WEEK HIGHLIGHTS TURNBULL GOVERNMENT FAILURE TO TACKLE HOMELESSNESS

31 Jul 2016

This week is Homelessness Week. It is a week during which every one of us should pause and reflect on the fact that on any given night, one in two hundred Australians have no home they can call their own.

SENATOR THE HON DOUG CAMERON

SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS

SHADOW MINISTER FOR SKILLS AND APPRENTICESHIPS

SENATOR FOR NEW SOUTH WALES

  

HOMELESSNESS WEEK HIGHLIGHTS TURNBULL GOVERNMENT FAILURE TO TACKLE HOMELESSNESS

This week is Homelessness Week. It is a week during which every one of us should pause and reflect on the fact that on any given night, one in two hundred Australians have no home they can call their own.

They are living from day to day, from hand to mouth, finding shelter and safety where they can; on someone’s couch, in an emergency shelter or in some other temporary supported accommodation. For most of them, life is very tough indeed.

Of those 105,000 people without a home, over 6,000 are sleeping rough in our towns and cities; in doorways and parks, in bus shelters and at railway stations or some other improvised shelter – anywhere they can find a bit of shelter and safety.

A quarter of all homeless people are victims of family and domestic violence. There are nearly 18,000 children under the age of ten who are homeless. Four hundred of those children are sleeping rough.

Homelessness is more often than not a result of circumstances beyond any anyone’s control. There are complex social, financial and medical issues that cause homelessness.

Homelessness has a huge human, social and economic cost and Labor believes that reducing the incidence of homelessness creates social and economic benefits for everyone.

Labor believes that safe, affordable housing is a basic human need and a basic human right, the absence of which denies people their human potential and the chance to lead a fulfilling life.

Under the Abbott and Turnbull governments, Commonwealth support for affordable housing and homelessness programs has been slashed.

One of the first acts of the Abbott government was to cut all capital funding for the establishment of shelters and other emergency accommodation for people at risk, particularly women and children escaping domestic violence.

The Turnbull government has refused to provide any long-term certainty of funding to the non-government organisations that provide vital services and support to homeless people and has cut over a hundred million dollars from Commonwealth/State housing and homelessness agreements.

The Turnbull government, like the Abbott government before it, doesn’t even have a Minister for Housing and Homelessness.

At a time when housing unaffordability is at its worst in living memory, more people than ever are suffering housing stress and homelessness remains unacceptably high; housing isn’t even on the Government's radar.

Labor calls on the government to appoint a Minister for Housing and Homelessness with responsibility to reduce the incidence of homelessness in Australia and tackle in a meaningful away the housing affordability crisis that is killing the aspirations of a generation.

Labor calls on the Turnbull government to provide certainty of funding through the National Affordable Housing Agreement (NAHA). The Coalition’s stop-gap, short-term funding of NAHA is effectively throttling the provision of new affordable social housing stock.

During the recent election campaign, Labor promised to commit $88 million over two years to increase the availability of transitional housing options for women and children escaping domestic and family violence. We stand by that promise and call on the Turnbull government to match it.

Labor calls on the Turnbull Government to end its war on facts and evidence by re-establishing the National Housing Supply Council. The Council was established in 2008 to provide expertise in monitoring housing demand, supply and affordability, and to identify gaps between housing supply and demand. It was abolished by the Coalition in November 2013.

A Labor government would make housing affordability a standing item on the agenda for every COAG meeting. We call on the Turnbull government to do the same.

Labor would make indigenous housing a central focus of the agenda for Closing the Gap in Indigenous Disadvantage.

Reducing and preventing homelessness isn’t simple. The Turnbull government would have us believe it can be solved by simply getting a good job with good pay while the federal government vacates the field.

While homelessness can’t be solved by government alone, the very least we should expect is a government prepared to provide leadership and back up its talk with action. The Turnbull government is failing on both counts.

This week, of all weeks, is one when we should expect more than empty gestures from the Turnbull Government. I won’t be holding my breath.

Not just this week, but every week, Federal Labor will be working with our State colleagues, NGOs, community housing providers and everyone with a genuine interest in providing long term certainty and genuine commitment to tackling homelessness.

SUNDAY, 31 JULY 2016