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Dire state of homelessness services no surprise: just ask the PM.



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Tanya Plibersek MP Shadow Minister for Human Services, Housing, Women and Youth

DIRE STATE OF HOMELESSNESS SERVICES NO SURPRISE - JUST ASK THE PM

Labor welcomes Wesley Mission’s call to improve the help available to homeless people.

More than one out of two adults and nearly two out of three children around the country who need emergency accommodation are turned away from shelters each day (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2004-05).

These figures are distressing, but they are not surprising.

The Howard Government has reduced funding to homelessness services through the joint federal and state and territory governments Supported Accommodation Assistance Program (SAAP).

It has also reduced the supply of affordable housing by starving the Commonwealth State Housing Agreement of adequate funding for 10 consecutive years, which in turn has reduced the pool of public housing.

Over 100,000 people in Australia are homeless. Nearly half of these people are under the age of 24 (ABS Census, 2001).

There are strong arguments to prevent homelessness.

The first is that no one should be homeless in Australia because it is unjust and debilitating.

The second is that the economic costs of homelessness outweigh the cost of action. For instance, health problems worsen when a person is living on the streets -admission to hospital when things get really bad ultimately costs the taxpayer a lot more than prevention in the first place.

Living in a secure home is fundamental to participation in society. A home is necessary for work, education and training. Secure accommodation is necessary to feel safe after domestic violence or to recover from substance abuse or mental illness.

National leadership is urgently needed to address the lack of affordable housing and the homelessness that can result.

Labor calls on the Howard Government to: • appoint a Housing Minister who will work with the Treasurer and the States to develop models for investment in affordable housing; • negotiate a National Affordable Housing Agreement with three tiers of

government; and • investigate shared equity models for low-income households; and adequately fund emergency accommodation and improve services for people at risk of

becoming homeless.

For more information please contact Tanya Plibersek on 02 9357 6366 or Mary Wood on 0438 983 908 14 May 2007