TURNBULL MUST PRIORITISE YOUTH HOMELESSNESS

18 Apr 2018

Today marks the 19th annual Youth Homelessness Matters Day – an initiative of the National Youth Coalition for Housing to raise awareness and increase understanding of youth homelessness in Australia.

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

TURNBULL MUST PRIORITISE YOUTH HOMELESSNESS

Today marks the 19th annual Youth Homelessness Matters Day – an initiative of the National Youth Coalition for Housing to raise awareness and increase understanding of youth homelessness in Australia.

The causes of youth homelessness in Australia are complex and varied.

Homelessness Australia has identified the most common reasons for young people to experience homelessness in Australia as domestic and family violence, relationship and family breakdown, and a severe shortage of affordable accommodation.

Regrettably, the Abbott-Turnbull Government has failed in its nearly 5 years in office to give rising levels of youth homelessness, nor its underlying causes, the urgent priority it requires.

The Abbott-Turnbull Government has instead pursued a policy agenda that has exacerbated the challenge of housing affordability for Australia's young people – while also cutting funding for specialist homelessness support services that cater for young people in acute need.

Since the 2013 election, the Abbott-Turnbull Government has:

  • Cut $44m a year in capital expenditure for crisis accommodation serving women and children fleeing domestic violence.
  • Defunded peak organisations that have been effective advocates for Australia’s homeless and disadvantaged, including Homelessness Australia, National Shelter and the Community Housing Federation of Australia.
  • Abolished the National Rental Affordability Scheme which boosted the supply of affordable housing for Australians and was widely supported by the industry.
  • Failed to negotiate a new funding agreement with the States that provides support for essential homelessness services.

The 2016 Census provides a sobering reminder of the need for the Government to prioritise youth homelessness in Australia.

ABS Census data has revealed that on any given night 28,000 young Australians aged 12-25 are homeless, and that 42% of Australia’s homeless population is under 25 years old.

Experts have warned that while young people are over-represented in official counts of the homeless population, the true number of young people experiencing homelessness is likely to be underestimated, as the Census does not adequately capture young people that “couch-surf” or are in other forms of informal accommodation.

In stark contrast to the approach of the Abbott-Turnbull Government, Labor is committed to ensuring that young Australians at risk of, or experiencing, homelessness, have access to appropriate support services which will assist them in establishing foundations on which they can build a stable future.

To that end, Labor have announced a series of policies that will address rising homelessness.

Crucially, this includes that a Shorten Labor Government will provide $88 million over two years for a new Safe Housing Fund to increase transitional housing options for women and children escaping domestic and family violence, young people exiting out-of-home care and older women on low incomes who are at risk of homelessness.

Labor congratulates the National Youth Coalition for Housing on their continued advocacy and initiative in supporting Youth Homelessness Matters Day. Labor will have more to say on homelessness in the lead up to the election.

WEDNESDAY, 18 APRIL 2018

Authorised Noah Carroll, ALP, Canberra