SURGE IN HOMELESSNESS AMONG OLDER AUSTRALIANS ON TURNBULL’S WATCH

30 Sep 2016

Tomorrow (October 1) is International Day of Older Persons, which in 2016 is our chance to take a stand against systemic ageism.

SENATOR THE HON DOUG CAMERON

SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS

SHADOW MINISTER FOR SKILLS AND APPRENTICESHIPS

SENATOR FOR NEW SOUTH WALES

  

SURGE IN HOMELESSNESS AMONG OLDER AUSTRALIANS ON TURNBULL’S WATCH

Tomorrow (October 1) is International Day of Older Persons, which in 2016 is our chance to take a stand against systemic ageism.

While older persons are often said to enjoy particular respect, the reality is that too many seniors are denied access to jobs, loans and the most basic needs like housing.

Increasing numbers of older Australians are becoming homeless. At the last census, one in seven homeless people are over 55 years old. That’s seventeen percent of all homeless people and the numbers are climbing, particularly among older women.

Low levels of superannuation savings, divorce, death of a partner, domestic violence and a chronic lack of affordable housing are the key drivers of homelessness amount older Australians and older women especially.

The Turnbull government’s cuts to homelessness services and its craven cowardice on housing affordability issues are increasing the risks of homelessness among older Australians.

The Turnbull government thinks it is just fine to spend billions of dollars a year on negative gearing and capital gains tax discounts to help people who already have a home or ten, while cutting $44 million in capital funding for crisis accommodation for women and children fleeing domestic violence.

Since 2013, the Abbott and Turnbull governments have:

•        Closed the National Rental Affordability Scheme that provided over 20,000 new affordable housing units and was on track to achieve its target of 50,000.

•        Refused to provide funding certainty through the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness.

•        Inexplicably cut funding to Homelessness Australia, National Shelter and the Community Housing Federation of Australia, presumably to reduce the effectiveness of their advocacy and policy functions.

•        Scrapped the First Home Saver Accounts Scheme which was helping people save for their first home.

•        Closed their ears and eyes by abolishing the National Housing Supply Council and the Prime Minister’s Council on Homelessness.

The Abbott and Turnbull governments’ record on homelessness policy is risible. Not only is it blind to the human cost of homelessness, it is blind to the economic cost of homelessness.

The risk of homelessness among older Australians can only be reduced by a government prepared to ensure an adequate supply of affordable housing for people on low incomes that is suitable to their needs and allows them to age in place.

The Turnbull government has proved itself unwilling and incapable of doing so.

FRIDAY 30 SEPTEMBER 2016