NFPs Take Fight for Homelessness Funding to Canberra
10 November 2016 at 11:34 am
A delegation of housing and homelessness not for profits delivered a petition from 40,000 Australians to the federal government, calling for urgent action to avoid the looming funding crisis.
The organisations, National Shelter, Homelessness Australia and ACOSS, said they were concerned about the soon-to-lapse National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness (NPAH) and said the government was failing to protect the community.
If the agreement, due to expire July next year, is not renewed, it would see the loss of $115 million in federal government funding, along with matched state funds.
NPAH funds 180 services. The cuts would see 80,000 Australians missing out on crisis support and housing, and nearly all of the services would face closure.
Homelessness Australia chairperson Jenny Smith told Pro Bono Australia News without NPAH the nation would see a “tsunami of homelessness”.
“Combined with the contribution of the states and territories, which matched the federal component, it’s about a third of the funding that homelessness services are using to support people experiencing homelessness,” Smith said.
“So if it wasn’t continued… it would be a disaster and we would see a tsunami of homelessness on top of the increasing homelessness we’re already seeing on the streets. We can see it, and what we can see is only about 5 per cent of the homelessness that’s actually there.”
She said the climate of uncertainty was already impacting on not-for-profit organisations working in the space.
“Agencies have staff leave looking for more secure jobs in the lead up to and context of the uncertainty,” she said.
“And agencies having to challenge themselves about whether it’s responsible to take on longer support periods with vulnerable people when they don’t know whether the service will be there at the end of June.”
The delegation met with parliamentarians on Wednesday, including Tanya Plibersek, Mark Butler, Tim Wilson and Senator Doug Cameron.
The visit to Canberra was also timed with the launch of the Parliamentary Friends of Housing and Homelessness, where the delegation delivered the Vote Home petition, started at the federal election.
The group was led by 24-year-old Hayley Van Summeren, who spearheaded the Change.org petition.
She said the issue was close to her heart because of her 10-year history of homelessness.
“I first became homeless when I was 14. It has been the biggest struggle of my life, to stay safe when I was homeless, to get a roof over my head, to get a job, to deal with the trauma from that time and to be the best mum I can be,” Hayley Van Summeren said.
She told Pro Bono Australia News that the support she received turned her life around: “This is what happens when proper funding is given and if they take it away it will be disastrous.
“It’s something that I’ve experienced myself, and it’s something I feel really strongly about. Change needs to happen.”
Smith said there was no indication from the federal government as to whether they would renew NPAH, although she was more confident about the states.
“The assistant minister Zed Seselja indicated that he would be providing clarification soon, but we haven’t had any indication,” she said.
“And the rumours are not filling us with confidence.
“Our belief is every state and territory wants to see the continuation of this funding… we had hoped that when the housing ministers met last Friday in Sydney that there would be an announcement, but we haven’t had one.”