Greens Push Government For Homelessness Targets
24 September 2018 at 4:35 pm
The Greens say the Coalition are showing a lack of commitment to fighting homelessness, and are calling on the federal government to introduce specific targets to tackle the problem.
Australian Greens housing spokesperson Senator Mehreen Faruqi moved a motion in the Senate last Thursday to develop a national homelessness plan, with the motion passed despite opposition from the Coalition and Katter’s Australian Party.
Faruqi said they had “called out” the government’s lack of commitment to a national scheme to end homelessness, which is supported by homelessness advocacy groups.
“The homelessness services sector has been crying out for national leadership on this issue and it is really disappointing that the Coalition government continue to shirk their responsibilities and have voted against this motion,” Faruqi said.
“People are sleeping rough with no roof over their head and no bed to sleep in. We need urgent action at all levels of government.”
This afternoon the Liberals, Nationals and Katter's Australia Party voted against taking a national approach to homelessness.
The Government still has no specific targets to reduce homelessness, despite 100,000 people now being without a home.
— Mehreen Faruqi (@MehreenFaruqi) September 20, 2018
Spokesperson from the Everybody’s Home Campaign Kate Colvin said having specific targets and a strategy were important because it focused government activity.
“You can’t achieve certain targets unless you put in place a concrete strategy to achieve it,” Colvin said.
In April this year, Homelessness Australia released a report detailing why a national strategy was required, and put forward a number of recommendations, including guaranteed funding for homelessness services, and a priority for affordable housing.
The report said that since 2013, the Specialist Homelessness Services system (SHS) that assists almost 300,000 Australians each year with support services, hadn’t secured secure funding.
“The Australian government has failed to commit to an ongoing funding program that has seen SHS struggle to plan for ongoing and effective service delivery. This has to stop,” it said.
A spokesperson from the Department of Social Services told Pro Bono News as part of the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement (NHHA), introduced on 1 July, homelessness funding would now be “ongoing and indexed”
“This provides certainty to frontline homelessness services,” the spokesperson said.
But they said the delivery of housing and homelessness services was primarily “a state and and territory responsibility”.
Colvin said while the stable funding commitment from the government was positive, it was not an “adequate level” of funding for the increasing needs of homelessness services.
She added funding homelessness services alone wouldn’t help tackle the problem.
“We need a national plan because the government also needs to be investing in social housing,the health system, mental health services and in social security,” Colvin said.
“So a national plan would enable those different policy areas kind of be brought together, because all of them combine and have an impact on homelessness.”
Faruqi told Pro Bono News she believed the Coalition Government didn’t want a national homelessness strategy because they didn’t want to take on the financial responsibility.
“It will require a significant financial investment and the Coalition has shown that it is more interested in helping big corporations, than people experiencing homelessness,” she said.
“Everyone has the right to safe and secure housing.”