NEW DATA ROUNDS OUT DISMAL YEAR FOR TURNBULL GOVERNMENT ON HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS

15 Dec 2016

Data on demand for specialist homelessness services released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) for 2015-2016 provide further evidence of the failure of the Turnbull government’s policies on funding for homelessness services.

SENATOR THE HON DOUG CAMERON
SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS
SHADOW MINISTER FOR SKILLS AND APPRENTICESHIPS
SENATOR FOR NEW SOUTH WALES

NEW DATA ROUNDS OUT DISMAL YEAR FOR TURNBULL GOVERNMENT ON HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS

Data on demand for specialist homelessness services released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) for 2015-2016 provide further evidence of the failure of the Turnbull government’s policies on funding for homelessness services.

The AIHW data shows:

  • Specialist homelessness services provided assistance to 279,000 people (one in 85 Australians) in 2015-2016. Six in ten clients were female and one in four indigenous;
  • Each day, 275 requests for assistance were unable to be met;
  • Almost 40 percent of clients sought support as a result of domestic and family violence;
  • About one in clients were people with a disability;
  • One in four clients who received assistance had a current metal health issue;
  • Indigenous people continue to be over-represented among homelessness service clients – one in four compared to one in 33 for the general population;
  • Just over half of unaccompanied young people presenting to service providers were already homeless at the time they sought support; and
  • Sixty percent of older clients were already living alone prior to accessing specialist homelessness services.

Specialist homelessness services need adequate, secure, long-term funding to meet the needs of an increasing number of people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

In its disastrous and discredited 2014 budget, the Abbott government cut $44 million a year from the Federal Government’s contribution to the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness (NPAH). The Coalition’s cuts so far come to $88 million.

To make matters worse, the government has refused to provide long-term funding certainty; forcing homelessness service providers to operate from year to year.

At last week’s Council of Australian Governments meeting, the Turnbull government announced a paltry $2 million a year funding increase and a mere twelve month extension to the NPAH.

At the 2016 election, Labor committed to provide secure, long-term funding to homelessness service providers and commence negotiations with the states and territories on a national plan to achieve a target of halving homelessness by 2025.

Labor also committed to providing $88 million over two years for a Safe Housing program, to improve transitional housing options for women and children escaping domestic and family violence.

The AIHW data on who is accessing specialist homelessness services rounds out an absolutely dismal year for the Turnbull government on housing and homelessness policy. It has been a year in which the Turnbull government:

  • Displayed its utter cowardice by refusing to reform negative gearing and capital gains tax concessions on property;
  • Tried to shift blame and responsibility for the housing affordability crisis to the states and territories;
  • Refused to provide long-term funding certainty for specialist homelessness services; and
  • Persisted with its mean and unwarranted cuts to homelessness funding under the NPAH.

“It is my sincere hope that the Prime Minister and his Social Services Minister get both a backbone and a heart for Christmas. If they can get some courage and compassion, 2017 might be just that little bit brighter for people experiencing homelessness and for the people who are having their aspirations for home ownership dashed by the Turnbull government’s policy failures”, Labor’s Shadow Minister for Housing and Homelessness, Senator Doug Cameron said.

THURSDAY, 15 DECEMBER 2016