Peak Body “Concerned” Over Homelessness Proposals
7 June 2012 at 9:40 am
Homelessness Australia has questioned draft legislation designed to broaden the definition of homelessness and has urged the Federal Government to make changes before tabling the Bill in Parliament.
The definition of 'homelessness' to be broadened
While tentatively welcoming the Government’s draft ‘exposure Bill’ – Homelessness Bill 2012 – the nation’s peak advocacy body said it has “significant concerns” the new legislation may not achieve its stated objectives.
Homelessness Australia Chairperson Narelle Clay said she supports efforts to broaden the definition of homelessness and enshrine it in legislation. However, the peak body says it is concerned the Government’s proposals have introduced the concept of whether or not a person is living in a refuge or boarding house by choice.
Clay said that Homelessness Australia was generally pleased that people experiencing homelessness and the services that provide assistance and accommodation have been recognised in the exposure draft of the new national Homelessness Bill 2012.
Homelessness Australia Policy Officer Travis Gilbert said the inclusion of an element of choice in a homelessness definition is worrying.
“This element needs to be removed from the bill or the sector will not support it,” Gilbert said.
In relation to the homelessness legislation that the Federal Government is trying to overhaul, Clay said that “important elements of the previous act, the Supported Accommodation Assistance Act 1994 (Cth) have been retained including recognition of the structural causes of homelessness and people who are at risk of becoming homeless and their need to access support services.”
Gilbert said Homelessness Australia looked forward to working with the Government to achieve better outcomes for people who are homeless.
“We need to see some consultation with the sector and improvements made to the content of the Bill,” Gilbert said.
Sarah Kahn, Manager of Policy and Communications at The Council to Homeless Persons in Victoria, said that while homelessness in never a choice, she believes the draft legislation is a step in the right direction.
Federal Minister for Homelessness and Housing Brendan O’Connor has called for submissions and comment on the draft exposure Bill.
The closing date for submissions is 3 August 2012.