Extend National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness to continue progress: ACOSS

The Australian Council of Social Service today called for an immediate extension of the National Partnership Agreement on homelessness, beyond the current one year that is on offer, to enable us to achieve a longer term reduction in homelessness across the country.

“We are pleased to see that the number of people sleeping rough has gone down. This is evidence that the increase in supported accommodation is working in tackling the most severe form of homelessness,” said ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie.

“Despite this improvement – outlined in the new COAG report released today – it’s clear that the overall level of homelessness is much higher than previous figures seemed to indicate, since the definition was broadened to include people living in temporary accommodation.

“Once this is accounted for the real number increased by 17%, meaning we are unlikely to meet the COAG 2013 benchmark to reduce homelessness by 7%. Most of this is attributed to an increase in the level of severe crowding and temporary accommodation, with nearly 10,000 more people living in severely crowded accommodation in 2011 compared to the last Census in 2006.

“It is important to note that around two thirds of people in this sort of accommodation were born overseas and likely to be recent migrants. This highlights that much more needs to be done to support newer members of our community, who are already some of the most disadvantaged groups.

“We appear to have made some progress in reducing the rate of Indigenous overcrowding, however Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are still 14 times more likely to be homelessness than the rest of the Australian community. This continues to be unacceptable and we need a sustained effort over time if we are to make a difference and close this disturbing gap.

“One important way to continue the momentum is for the Federal and State and Territory Government’s to work more closely together on these long term strategies. Extending the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness for more than the one year currently on offer would go some way to steer us in the right direction,” Dr Goldie said.

Media Contact: Fernando de Freitas 0419 626 155