15 Sep 2016

A full year into his term, PM Turnbull has failed to extend the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness (NPAH) beyond its June 2017 expiry date.

The current agreement provided $230 million in Commonwealth funding over two years to support people experiencing homelessness.  NPAH gives priority to frontline services focusing on women and children experiencing domestic and family violence, and homeless youth.

By failing to fund NPAH, Mr Turnbull has wilfully ignored homelessness as a social and economic issue.

Examples of services paid for under NPAH include the Aboriginal Women and Children Crisis Service in Sydney and the Homeless and Vulnerable People Project in South Australia.

The Federal Government has also failed to commit to funding the Reconnect youth homelessness program beyond 2017. Reconnect provides support to young people experiencing homelessness.

The last Census figures showed that 1 in 200, or 105,000 Australians, are homeless on any one night, with around 6000 people sleeping rough, approximately 400 of whom are children.

The previous Labor Government made addressing homelessness a priority. The chaos of the Abbott-Turnbull conflict, and the indifference of the Liberals and Nationals to poverty and inequality has caused homelessness to slip well down the priority list for government.

Organisations which provide support to homeless people such as Mission Australia and the Council to Homeless Persons have been calling on the Turnbull Government to fund NPAH beyond 2017 for some time, but their pleas have been ignored.

Research shows that the Turnbull Government’s lack of commitment to tackling homelessness is costing federal and state health budgets tens of millions every year.

Currently it seems as though poverty and the plight of homeless people in this country is out of sight and out of mind for the Turnbull Government. 

Malcolm Turnbull should scratch up at least one achievement of his first year as PM, show some leadership, stop focusing on internal fights, and fund NPAH past 2017.