NEW FIGURES SHOWS TURNBULL GOVERNMENT FAILURE ON HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS

14 Dec 2017

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) figures for 2016-2017 on specialist homelessness services provide further evidence of the failure of the Turnbull government’s housing and homelessness policies.

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

NEW FIGURES SHOWS TURNBULL GOVERNMENT FAILURE ON HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) figures for 2016-2017 on specialist homelessness services provide further evidence of the failure of the Turnbull government’s housing and homelessness policies.

The AIHW data shows over 288,000 clients were assisted by specialist homelessness services agencies, a 3% rise in the past year. One in 84 Australians are now accessing homelessness services.

Most concerning is that 261 requests for homelessness assistance were unable to be met each day.

Over half of clients (56 percent) assisted in 2016–17 were currently housed, but at risk of becoming homeless. Most commonly, these clients are private rental market tenants.

While around 60 percent seeking help were living in private housing, only 6 percent of those in private housing could be helped into social housing.

This highlights the slow erosion of the provision of social housing in Australia as the primary solution to housing stress. Only 4.4 percent of Australia’s total housing stock is social housing, among the lowest in the OECD. Nearly  200,000 households are on social housing waiting lists.

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.

The Turnbull government has no Minister for Housing and Homelessness and has no national plan to deal with this growing problem.

Since the May 2017 Budget when it announced that it would negotiate a new National Housing and Homelessness Agreement with the states, the Turnbull government has been unable to finalise an agreement.

With current funding arrangements coming to end in June next year, the result is more funding uncertainty, more policy uncertainty, increased demand on homelessness services and an ongoing housing affordability crisis.

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). 

In contrast, a Shorten Labor Government will develop and implement a national plan to reduce homelessness through the Council of Australian Governments.

Labor has already begun announcing policies to tackle homelessness, including:

• Providing $88 million for a 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.

• Establishing a bond aggregator to increase investment in affordable housing.

• Improving the National Housing Affordability Agreement, re-establishing the National Housing Supply Council and appointing a dedicated Minister for Housing and Homelessness.

Labor is providing national leadership on solutions to the housing affordability crisis, addressing the housing sector as a whole with policies on negative gearing and CGT through to assistance for people experiencing homelessness.

In contrast, the Turnbull government is too divided, weak and distracted to show the leadership required from the Commonwealth government to deal with the housing affordability crisis.

THURSDAY, 14 DECEMBER 2017