ACOSS Supports Homelessness Strategy
19 January 2009 at 2:44 pm
The Australian Council of Social Services ACOSS has strongly supported the direction of the Federal Government’s White Paper on Homelessness which was released the week before Christmas.
The White Paper outlines a plan for reducing homelessness in Australia by 2020, with specific goals to:
• Halve overall homelessness; and
• Provide accommodation to all rough sleepers who seek it.
Research has found that there are currently 105,000 homeless people in Australia, of whom around 16,000 sleep rough.
The White Paper provides an additional $1.2 billion over four years – a 55% increase in investment in homelessness and a down payment on a twelve year reform agenda.
It includes a commitment of $800 million over the next four years for new support services for homeless people and $400 million over the next two financial years for social housing, to house the homeless.
The White Paper focuses on three core strategies:
• Turning off the tap’ – better prevention of homelessness
• Improving and expanding services to help more homeless people
• Breaking the cycle of homelessness by providing long term housing and support.
Through new funding and reforms the Government says it aims to:
• Help up to 9,000 more young people to remain connected with their families;
• Help up to 2,250 more families at risk of homelessness to stay housed;
• Provide day to day support to an extra 1,000 adults with mental illness;
• Build up to 2,700 additional public and community houses for low income households who are at risk of homelessness;
• Fund a network of 90 Community Engagement Officers within Centrelink to support people at risk of homelessness; and
• Build up to 4,200 new houses and upgrade up to 4,800 existing houses in remote Indigenous communities
• Allocate aged care places and capital funds for at least 1 new specialist facility for older homeless people every year for the next four years.
The Government says reducing homelessness is a shared responsibility that will take a sustained financial and reform effort by all levels of government, business, charities and the community.
ACOSS’s new CEO Clare Martin says the Government has shown it is serious about reducing homelessness and she welcomes the commitment to halve homelessness and end rough sleeping by 2020.
Martin, who is the former First Minister of the Northern Territory, says The Road Home recognises the valuable work of the homelessness sector and sees that this workforce must be adequately trained and better supported.
ACOSS supports the three strategies to tackle homelessness – early intervention, expanded and well-connected services, and breaking the cycle by moving people from crisis accommodation into stable housing.
Martin says ACOSS welcomes plans to prevent homelessness before it begins by targeting people at risk – people lacking affordable housing, or suffering from domestic violence, financial crisis, ill health, family breakdown.
She says substantial investment in affordable housing and a strong social housing system is key to achieving the 2020 homelessness targets.
She says the White Paper recognises the pressures on homelessness services and challenges mainstream services – like health, education, housing, employment services and social security – to take a more active role in preventing homelessness and social exclusion.
The White Paper is available at Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) website or by calling 1800 774 055.