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Budget 2018: Homelessness monitor report demands action



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

HOMELESSNESS MONITOR REPORT DEMANDS ACTION

Today’s release of the inaugural Australian Homelessness Monitor by Launch Housing has confirmed that urgent action is needed to address housing affordability and rising homelessness in Australia after five years of neglect, cuts and indifference from the Abbott-Turnbull Government.

The report builds on recent evidence from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and data from the 2016 Census to highlight that Australia’s homelessness problem is growing.

The report has found that the number of Australians experiencing homelessness has increased by 14 percent nationally since 2011, including a dramatic increase of 22 percent in the number of people requesting help from specialist homelessness services over the same period.

Troubling, the report has also identified that rough sleeping - the most visible and extreme form of homelessness - has also outpaced the overall rise in homelessness since 2011, increasing by 20 percent.

The report underlines that the broader housing affordability crisis is a critical factor contributing to the growth in homelessness. The report notes that the proportion of low-income tenants who are in rental stress, and therefore at greater risk of experiencing homelessness, has risen from 35 to 44 percent over the past decade.

Key to the report’s findings is that the Turnbull Government is not doing enough to tackle the structural causes of homelessness. It states that “Policy inaction on housing affordability is responsible for increasing homelessness” and calls on the federal government to lead and develop a coordinated policy response to homelessness with the state and territory governments

Regrettably, the Turnbull Government failed to deliver on this national leadership last Tuesday night. Astonishingly, housing affordability and homelessness were effectively absent from the 2018-19 Budget.

While the Launch Housing report welcomes the establishment of the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation, it makes clear that as a standalone initiative without additional support to address the funding gap “it will not provide a sufficient subsidy to increase the level of social housing.”

Labor has previously highlighted the importance of addressing the funding gap, including calling on the Turnbull Government to takes steps to remedy it as a matter of urgency. Without doing so, efforts to promote investment by institutional and community housing providers in social and affordable housing will simply fail to deliver.

Despite nearly five years in office, the Coalition Government continues to wilfully ignore the funding gap, and subsequently has taken no action that will meaningfully address the growing homelessness problem.

In stark contrast to the Turnbull Government's contemptuous neglect, Labor believes the housing affordability crisis and increasing homelessness are nationally significant social and economic challenges that must be addressed.

It is time for Malcolm Turnbull to pay attention to this growing problem and commit to a national plan, as well as restoring the $44 million cut from homelessness funding per year since 2014.

Labor has announced major policy initiatives to tackle homelessness and the housing affordability crisis and will have more to say before the next election. Labor is committed to tackling homelessness and inequality and giving Australians a fair go. It’s time for the Turnbull government to act on this growing problem.

TUESDAY, 15 MAY 2018

MEDIA CONTACT: LUKE WHITINGTON 0422 265 775

Authorised by Noah Carroll ALP Canberra