From the Saint Vincent de Paul Society – August 2013
Why is homelessness a priority issue in your local electorate?
See Labor Party’s Commitment.Vinnies welcomes PM’s renewed pledge to halve homelessness
Homelessness is a serious issue that affects 105,237 people every night across Australia. Most of us come in
contact with a person who is experiencing homelessness every week, perhaps every working day.
We know from our statistics that families and children are the largest group of people experiencing homelessness.
More than 17,000 Australian children under the age of 12 have no home. A further 10,900 young people aged 12
to 18 are experiencing homelessness; most are estranged from their families.
The Society’s 16,000 members and volunteers around NSW see the impacts that homelessness has on peoples’
lives and know that it affects people in both metropolitan and regional areas.
It makes both social and economic sense to reduce homelessness. The economic, social and personal costs of
leaving the homelessness crisis as it is are enormous. We want to see people break the cycle of homelessness and
want action to be taken to prevent young people and families from falling into homelessness in the first place.
What positive work is being done?
The Federal Government’s 2008 White Paper on homelessness, The Road Home, put the spotlight on
homelessness for the first time, with the Commonwealth providing $800m over a 5 year period in partnership
with the states and territories. Importantly the White paper also set targets to halve homelessness by 2020.
As a result of these targets, we now have a situation where the Federal Government and all States and Territories
are working towards reducing homelessness – and that’s both sides of the political fence.
In response, State Governments have been trialling new approaches to see what works best to reduce
homelessness. The current NSW Government has implemented its Going Home Staying Home Reform Plan.
More recently, the QLD Government released its Homelessness to Housing Strategy 2020, publicly backing the
goal to halve homelessness by 2020.
State Governments are now reforming their systems so that they are focused on reducing and not managing
homelessness, with a greater focus on early intervention and prevention.
What does the St Vincent de Paul Society call for?
The Society calls on the Coalition, as it does on the Labor party, to commit to reducing homelessness and
specifically to the White Paper targets of halving homelessness by 2020.
What difference will committing to targets to halve homelessness by 2020 make?
An enormous amount of work has been done and it will be lost if the incoming Government in September – Labor
or the Coalition – walk away from the targets.
Reducing homelessness is not only about funding, it is about changing the way we respond, focusing on early
intervention and prevention and ensuring our systems are not geared to managing homelessness but rather reducing it.
A commitment by the Coalition will help to ensure that the important work underway continues.