Government Looks to New ‘Homelessness’ Picture
6 September 2012 at 11:56 am
The Federal Government says new figures to be released next week will provide the most accurate picture of homelessness ever produced in Australia.
Housing Minister, Brendan O’Connor has told the national Homelessness Conference in Melbourne that the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) will release figures using the newly developed and expanded definition that recognises homelessness is not just going without a roof over your head.
“The new definition recognises that a person could be homeless if they have no choice but to live in a dwelling that is not fit for human habitation; or to reside in a place without tenure; or to stay somewhere where they have no privacy, or personal space,” the Minister said.
He said the revised estimates of homelessness will help make an accurate assessment about how far we’ve come over the last decade.
“While the ABS estimate will be an important piece of data to help measure progress, it will not be the only piece of data we use. We will also use the more dynamic and timely information collected from specialist homelessness services by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), and we will use Journeys Home, the first national longitudinal study of homelessness in Australia and possibly the first of its magnitude in the world.
“Combined, these facts and figures will give us the most accurate picture of homelessness we have ever had.”
More than 1200 representatives working in the homelessness sector are attending the 7th National Homelessness Conference from a large cross-section of homelessness services, academics, government and allied health professions to discuss directions for addressing homelessness in Australia.
The Minister also launched the final report carried out by the National Institute of Labour Studies at Flinders University and the Hanover research services, Finding Work: Homelessness and Employment.
“This study highlights the very real need for early engagement between employers, job services and clients to create more flexible and secure pathways into employment.
“We know that one of the key factors to exiting homelessness is finding and keeping a job.
“Flinders and Hanover have now worked through specific strategies to help people facing these barriers.
“Their study provides us with the stepping stones to look at new and innovative policies to address the themes developed in their research – and so will the many ideas raised over the three days of this conference,” he said.
He also criticised the Queensland and NSW governments for cutting the Tenant Advice and Advocacy Service and increasing rents in public housing.
"We also need evidence about which programs have worked best and what approaches are required for different situations," he said.
Homelessness Australia’s Policy Officer Travis Gilbert says pulling back on these important services which do not cost a lot of money certainly puts pressure on the Federal Government’s target to halve the rate of homelessness by 2020.