Labor Promises Homeless Strategy As Brendan Nottle Reaches Parliament
17 October 2017 at 8:29 am
Labor has vowed to take up a national homelessness strategy to the next election in response to Major Brendan Nottle of the Salvation Army completing his 40-day, 700-kilometre walk from Melbourne to Canberra.
Nottle set out from Bourke Street on his Walk the Walk for the Homeless on 8 September, in a bid to raise awareness of homelessness.
He was greeted in Canberra on Monday by a number of politicians including Opposition Leader Bill Shorten who walked the last 500 metres to Parliament House with him.
Shorten said Nottle was “a rock star” who had “given politics a little bit of self-respect” and he confirmed a Labor government would develop and implement a national plan to reduce homelessness through the Council of Australian Governments.
“I just want to congratulate Major Brendan Nottle of the Salvation Army who has just walked 703km from Melbourne to put the issue of homelessness back on the national agenda,” Shorten said.
“There’s no doubt that homelessness has been a neglected issue in recent years. It is unsatisfactory for the soul of the nation to have 100,000-plus people sleeping rough every night of the year. And there is much more that can be done and should be done.
“And I promise Brendan Nottle that Labor will take up a national homelessness strategy to the next election, because that’s what Brendan and, more importantly, homeless Australians expect from their Parliament.”
Nottle, who is also set to meet with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Minister for Human Services Alan Tudge and Minister for Social Services Christian Porter later in the week, is calling for a bipartisan, long-term plan that addresses not only homelessness but all the issues that contribute to it – such as mental health, trauma and substance abuse issues.
He told Pro Bono News a national plan to address homelessness was critical.
“We need national leadership here. We need that national plan, that is bipartisan, long term and very comprehensive,” Nottle said.
“It needs to include, not just a resolution around housing affordability, which is a critical piece, we actually need more than that. We need the drivers behind homelessness, that often occur in suburbs and regional and rural areas to be addressed as well.
“I think we’re at the point now that when you’re in cities you are confronted with rough sleeping and homelessness all the time. I think it can be overwhelming when you work extremely hard to get people off the streets and their spots are taken very quickly by someone else, and that’s going to continue to be the case until we actually have that national plan that looks at not just housing affordability or the lack of it, but also the deeper issues that are drivers of homeless.”
Nottle said while he was relieved the walk was now over, he felt it had been a success.
“I feel pretty relieved that I’m not walking today, because I’m not built for walking long distances,” he said.
“In terms of engaging with large number of people and hearing about their perspective of homelessness I think it is has been successful.
“There has been people just all the way here that have been saying: ‘You know what, we have just got to get this done, we’ve just got to find a way through the issue of homelessness and the contributing factors to homelessness. Surely we can find a solution to this?’ That’s been the sense the whole way.”
“So I think it has been successful in that sense and I think politicians have been saying all the right things today, I think that it is a good start if they can act on what they say, it will go a long way to start getting some solutions in place.”
But he said achieving bipartisan support seemed like a dream.
“I feel a bit uncomfortable saying it because it is such a dream, but it is absolutely required,” he said.
“If we don’t have it then we run the risk of one side of politics committing to a plan and then the other side of politics overturning that when they’re in government.
“I think for the sake of the most vulnerable in our community we need that bipartisan approach, it is critical.”
He said he hoped the walk would put pressure on the government to address the issue.
“I think there are so many issues that are clamouring for the attention of our political leaders and I think that homeless people are not just homeless they are often voiceless and they are often forgotten,” Nottle said.
“And I think and I hope that the walk is just another pressure point for people to say to them ‘we desperately need you to list this issue above politics and get these solutions’.
“We can help, we’ve got the resources, and I think we’ve got the minds, we just need the will, that’s the critical piece now.”