Call for a Cross-Party Commitment to Help Homeless Australians

ACOSS has called on political leaders to confirm their policies on homelessness and ensure that all Australians have a safe place to sleep. New figures from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare released today show 62% of people seeking crisis housing accommodation were turned away.

“With 105,000 Australians unable to find a bed on any given night, ACOSS calls for a cross-party commitment to halve homelessness by 2020,” said Tony Westmore, Acting CEO, Australian Council of Social Service.

The AIHW reports that in 2008-09 families were the group most likely to be turned away from crisis housing. An average of 80% of couples with children, 75% of couples without children and 69% of individuals with children who requested emergency accommodation were turned away.

“It is critical that there is a long-term commitment to prevent and respond to homelessness through supporting specialist emergency services,” said Mr Westmore.

“ACOSS supports the steps taken by federal, state and territory governments over the last two years to implement the strategies outlined in the Federal Government’s White Paper on homelessness, The Road Home. These policies include early intervention, expanded and well-connected services, and breaking the cycle by moving people from crisis accommodation into stable housing.

“Substantial investment in affordable housing and a strong social housing system are vital to alleviating the pressures on crisis housing services.

“ACOSS has strongly supported the Government’s stimulus spending of $6 billion on social housing to build 19,200 dwellings as a first step to reducing the drastic shortfall in affordable dwellings.

“We have also called for a future growth fund for housing with an initial down-payment of $750 million and sustained long-term ongoing funding.

“To alleviate the stress on private renters, and help prevent homelessness, ACOSS has also called for a 30% increase in the maximum rate of Commonwealth Rent Assistance.”

Media Contact: Clare Cameron, ACOSS – 0419 626 155