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Time for action on housing!

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Senator Kim Carr

Labor Senator for Victoria Shadow Minister for Housing; Urban Development; Local Government and Territories 1/08/05

Time for Action on Housing!

Senator Kim Carr today demanded that the Howard Government take urgent action to address the needs of the 100 000 homeless Australians who are losing out because there is no national housing policy.

During National Homeless Persons’ Week (August 1 - 7) it is critical that the Government finally takes action by instituting a national housing policy.

The Howard Government has overseen a fall in social housing stock from 6.1% of total stock in 1996 to 5.1% in 2003. It has also reduced Federal funding for public housing by 30 percent since coming to office. Meanwhile, the affordability of housing in the private sector has taken a nosedive - both rental and ownership.

One reason why the Howard Government has been able to get away with this is because the public are largely unaware of the real facts behind homelessness in Australia.

As Mission Australia said today, statistics belie the traditional image of the middle aged or elderly male alcoholic who sleeps rough on the street. In fact they show that the majority of Australia’s homeless are aged 34 or under. They are often

the victims of violence and extreme financial hardship and may suffer from mental illness.

The figures also show that most Australians have no idea how big this problem is and estimate the number of homeless Australians at around 20,000, when in fact the number is five times greater.

But the Howard Government’s job is to address the reality. It is no longer good enough for Minister Patterson, and John Howard, to try and sweep this growing crisis under the carpet.

Last week, Minister Patterson failed to make any progress in finalising the agreement with the States to support homelessness services (the SAAP Agreement) and the Howard Government is still refusing to offer any new

funding, despite mounting evidence of desperate people being turned away from shelters and refuges.

The Joint Meeting of the Local Government, Planning and Housing Ministers this Thursday is the perfect opportunity for Minister Patterson to start fixing the mess and commit the Howard Government to working with the States and Territories, as well as the private sector and the community, to develop a comprehensive national housing strategy.

Further information: Kim Carr 0419 563 922, Amanda Forman, 0417 142 238. Electorate Office: 62 Lygon St CARLTON SOUTH 3053 Ph: 03 9639 2798 Fax: 03 9639