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Vanstone ducks for cover while homeless young people are left on the street.

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Nicola Roxon MP Shadow Minister for Children and Youth

For more information call: Nicola Roxon or Chris Black on (02) 6277 2039 or 0409 776 733


Vanstone Ducks for Cover while homeless young people are left on the street Following the release of the Youth Homelessness Census 2001 report today by the Salvation Army, Senator Amanda Vanstone let fly with a defensive volley, taking no responsibility for any of the increase in youth homelessness under her watch.

The report estimates that 26,000 young Australians are homeless on any one night, an 8.4% increase from Census night in 1996, when the Howard Government came to power.

The “don’t look at me” response to increases in youth homelessness doesn’t wash from the Federal Government.

• It is the Prime Minister of this Government who said when taking office in 1996 that addressing Youth Homelessness was one of his priority tasks in Government. • Minister Vanstone has re-launched her own National Homelessness Strategy several times in the past three years. • The Government’s own Youth Pathways Taskforce Report identifies serious

shortcomings in the social security system and states that young people on Youth Allowance are being forced to turn to crime and drug dealing to survive because of low rates of benefit and harsh breaching provisions. • The Government promised a response to the Youth Pathways report in the 2001 election, but the 2002 Budget delivered nothing.

Get real, Minister. Your Government needs to take action to help deal with this very serious problem.

It is no use of Senator Vanstone trying to discredit the Salvation Army's figures just because they are an embarrassment to her Government. The researchers who compiled the alarming new figures (Chamberlain and McKenzie) are respected in this area, having refined their census of young people who are homeless over a decade and who have been used by the Commonwealth for their expertise.

There is a worrying new trend of the Commonwealth throwing up its hands when unmet need for services, housing and support are identified. Minister Vanstone can’t keep pointing at the States.

People want solutions, not buck passing, particularly when young people's futures are at stake.

16 July 2002