Treasurer Calls for Heart and Mind Approach to Homelessness
15 May 2017 at 5:09 pm
Addressing homelessness needs a heart and mind approach from governments, Treasurer Scott Morrison has told the social sector.
Morrison addressed the ACOSS Post Budget Breakfast on Monday to discuss the impacts of the 2017 budget from the perspective of people experiencing poverty and disadvantage, and the community organisations who support them.
He used his speech to talk about housing and “peel back the layers of Australia’s housing markets, defining what our challenges are, and plotting a course to successful outcomes.”
“It’s an important social and economic issue. When you don’t have a roof over your head, everything gets harder,” Morrison said.
“It’s true that there are no silver bullet solutions to making housing more affordable or reducing homelessness. Anyone who holds out such hope is not being honest with you.
“But it’s also true that by adopting a comprehensive approach with national leadership, by working together, by looking across the whole spectrum of housing needs, we can make a difference.”
Morrison pledged to support the social sector in its work and announced the government would provide $6 million to the Big Issues’ Homes for Homes initiative.
“We are inspired by the incredible work this sector does in caring for the homeless and getting vulnerable Australians into homes. And we want to continue to back you in, encourage you, and ensure you have the resources to beat homelessness across this nation,” he said.
ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie, who presented the views of the community sector at the event, told Pro Bono News the event was an “overwhelming success” with a capacity audience of community sector experts and people affected by poverty and disadvantage.
“Treasurer Scott Morrison presented the government’s case, focusing on the new investments in social housing made in this budget,” Goldie said.
“ACOSS welcomed the shift to strengthening public revenue. It is far better to fund essential services through the progressive income tax system than to leave them underfunded or by charging those who use them.
“Movement on housing, health and schools education is a welcome change of tack but additional funds and longer term reform is still needed.”
ACOSS and the community sector expressed deep concern for several elements of the budget that directly targeted people on the lowest incomes, particularly the proposed new demerit system for jobseekers and drug testing, additional tests for single parents and the expansion of the cashless welfare card.
Goldie said ACOSS would continue to oppose and fight against those policies which “reinforce the perception that if you are out of paid work it’s somehow all your fault”.
“We must stop the practise of demonising and vilifying people receiving income system,” she said.
“ACOSS wants to work with this government in putting in place the most effective long-term policies that will equip and get people into paid work.
“We feel that merely punishing people and taking money from them when they are down will do nothing to help lift people up and put them in the best possible position to participate in paid work.”
The treasurer’s speech was followed by a panel chaired by Patricia Karvelas and including Dr Jackie Huggins AM, Dr John Hewson AM, Laura Tingle, Heather Ridout AO, Marcus Spiller, and Nadine Flood.
It comes after a group of university students stormed the University of Technology Sydney building where the breakfast was being held to protest the federal government’s higher education cuts and plan to hike student fees.