Communist Party of Australia

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Issue #1601      July 10, 2013

Homelessness services delivering but too many still in need

A new report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows that over 157,000 people accessed homelessness services in the six months from July to December 2012, with almost half of them already homeless when they began to receive support.

The number of people assisted by specialist homelessness services (SHSs) in the previous six months appears to have increased when you break the data down from the previous SHS data collection.

“While the increases in the number of people accessing services indicates a greater need for continuing and increased investment in homelessness, it is positive that services assisted so many people,” said Narelle Clay AM, Chairperson of Homelessness Australia.

Domestic violence continues to be a significant issue for people accessing services with 23% of people (and 32% of women) citing it as the main reason they sought support.

Children continue to be overrepresented in the data with 21% of clients aged under 15. “This is a particular concern for the future,” Ms Clay said. “Homelessness has a strongly intergenerational dimension. Failing to provide adequate services to prevent or address homelessness for children can lead to future social problems that are more difficult and expensive to solve.”

The report showed that over half of clients required assistance with accommodation, with a further quarter needing assistance to sustain their housing. “Addressing homelessness requires a wide range of strategies – there are people who receive family relationship support, referral, advocacy, practical assistance and other support but there is inadequate accommodation or housing for them. “We need to continue all the strategies to reduce homelessness, and to ultimately end homelessness, but we also need to ensure that people experiencing homelessness can obtain safe supported accommodation until homelessness ends” said Ms Clay.

Homelessness Australia calls for bipartisan commitment from the major parties for:

  1. The strategies identified in the White Paper on Homelessness initiatives including a longer term National Partnership Agreement On Homelessness (NPAH);
  2. More affordable housing and;
  3. Increased capacity for homelessness support services to ensure that reducing homelessness remains an achievable goal.

“We appreciate the recent one-year extension of the NPAH, but those 180 services to vulnerable people cannot operate effectively on transitional funding and it needs to be a priority to gain commitments for the next longer term agreement” said Ms Clay.

More about Homelessness Australia homelessnessaustralia.org.au   

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