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Charities Call on Political Parties to Halve Homelessness

24 May 2016 at 10:34 am
Ellie Cooper
Leading providers of homelessness services in Australia have joined forces to call on all political parties to make reducing homelessness a priority in the federal election campaign.

Ellie Cooper | 24 May 2016 at 10:34 am


Charities Call on Political Parties to Halve Homelessness
24 May 2016 at 10:34 am

Leading providers of homelessness services in Australia have joined forces to call on all political parties to make reducing homelessness a priority in the federal election campaign.

In a joint letter sent to party leaders on Tuesday, Anglicare Australia, Mission Australia, the Salvation Army, St Vincent de Paul, UnitingCare Australia and Wesley Mission demanded a commitment to halve homelessness by 2025.

Executive director of Anglicare Australia Kasy Chambers said the organisations want bipartisan support for the issue.

“What we’re looking at is a commitment from all sides of Parliament and all parties, especially in election time,” Chambers told Pro Bono Australia News.

“We feel that’s a reasonable ask, it sounds like a long-term goal, but housing is a difficult issue to turnaround, it is bricks and mortar, it takes a while to replace, but it is such a blight on a rich society when we have increasing numbers of homelessness.”

The coalition of Not for Profits has also launched a petition to generate public support for the campaign.

Chambers said while Anglicare, along with many of the other bodies, would remain non-partisan, they would focus on educating voters.

“What we’ll be doing is making comments about housing, about how important housing is. We’ve got our own housing position paper, which we’ll be releasing in a couple of weeks,” she said.

“We’ll be hoping that people will read that kind of information and will make their own mind up about where the parties stand and which parties have the best offer around housing affordability.

“And when we talk about homelessness, it is issues like housing affordability that actually cause homelessness and are the cure for homelessness. So there is a bigger picture, it is about housing, it is about long-term housing solutions, so that people – whatever age they are, whether it’s older women or younger people or even children who are homeless –  can actually find a secure and affordable dwelling upon which they can build the rest of their life around.

In the lead up to the federal election, like-minded organisations across foreign aid and women’s rights have also teamed up to campaign for their issues. Chambers said it was important for Not for Profits to form coalitions.  

“We all work together behind the scenes most of the time, members work together from Port Hedland to Melbourne, but often politicians don’t see that we’re one voice calling for one thing,” she said.

“And I think hopefully what this will tell the politicians is that this is an incredibly important issue.

“There are a lot of other things that can’t be solved until we solve this. While we have… this invisibility of 110,000 people homeless on any night, let alone the underreporting around the couchsurfing for young people and the invisibility of some levels of insecure housing… while we’ve got that it’s very difficult to build some of the other parts of society.

“By joining together we’re hoping that housing and homelessness [will be] very much on the front foot and the front of people’s mind for voters.”

On Friday a national alliance of housing, homelessness and welfare peak bodies launched a digital election campaign to make housing affordability a major election issue.

Chambers said Anglicare was also involved in the Vote Home petition, which was formed by Homelessness Australia, National Shelter, the Community Housing Industry and the Australian Council of Social Service.  

“That’s where the bigger area of housing comes in. While it’s homelessness that’s the pointy end, and certainly that’s where none of us would want to be and none of us would want anyone we cared about to be, we don’t cure that without curing the whole issue of housing affordability,” she said.

The alliance is calling for a national strategy to end the housing crisis by 2025.

Ellie Cooper  |  Journalist  |  @ProBonoNews

Ellie Cooper is a journalist covering the social sector.

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