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Action needed on housing: A basic human right.



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DEMOCRATS MEDIA KATE REYNOLDS MLC SA DEMOCRATS SPOKESPERSON ON HOUSING SENATOR NATASHA STOTT DESPOJA DEMOCRATS SPOKESPERSON ON STATUS OF WOMEN & SENATOR FOR SOUTH AUSTRALIA 04/806

FRIDAY AUGUST 27 2004

ACTION NEEDED ON HOUSING: A BASIC HUMAN RIGHT The Australian Democrats today called on the Government to immediately address the unmet need for public and low cost housing.

Speaking at the launch of “Women, Homes and Sex Discrimination 2004”, South Australian Democrats’ Spokesperson on Housing Kate Reynolds MLC said adequate housing should be a basic human right.

"The absence of safe, affordable and secure housing is the main contributing factor to the 'poverty trap', and the majority of those caught are women and children," Ms Reynolds said.

"Landlord discrimination against single mothers with low incomes also makes it difficult for women to enter into the private rental market."

A report issued a month ago by the Australian Institute for Health and Welfare (AIHW), revealed 53,800 children (half under five-years-old) accompanied a parent or guardian in seeking help from the Government's Supported Accommodation Assistance Program (SAAP), largely because of domestic violence.

"The figures on homeless women and children have worsened since last year, "Democrats’ Spokesperson for the Status of Women Senator Natasha Stott Despoja said.

"Many women and children become homeless after escaping domestic violence. Others remain in their homes, subject to continuing violence simply because they have nowhere else to go.

"The Commonwealth-States Housing Agreement signed only last year by the Minister aims to provide appropriate, affordable and secure housing assistance for those who need it. Why then does the AIHW report find that on an average daily basis 14,650 children were in need of or using accommodation assistance?

"We want housing on the national agenda. It is a fundamental election issue. The Federal Government cannot hide behind the Commonwealth-States Housing Agreement and blame the States, nor can it continue to call on the States to make up shortfalls in housing funding because of Government cuts.

"However, the SA Government is nearly a year overdue in releasing the State Housing Plan, which it needs to outline how it plans to overcome homelessness and the extreme public housing shortage," Ms Reynolds concluded.

Media Enquiries - Raina Hunter - 0402 145 820 or Kate Reynolds - 0412 637 387