UnitingCare services across Australia are reporting increasing demand for homelessness services and a critical shortage of safe, affordable accommodation to house these people,” UnitingCare Australia Chair Peter Bicknell said.
“We want the Australian Government to take leadership on this critical national issue, to work with its state and territory colleagues, and the community sector, to develop a national response strategy.
“A national strategy needs to look at early intervention and responses to the full range of issues, from family breakdown and domestic violence, to mental health, drugs and alcohol, and loss of work, which can lead to any of us finding ourselves without a home.
“Our community needs leadership from government to ensure services addressing these issues are effective and appropriately funded.
Mr Bicknell said long term planning and capital investment are also needed to ensure there is adequate affordable housing for low income families and individuals.
“Experts agree that social housing not only acts as an effective buffer for lower income groups, but timely investment in this sector can also play a role in maintaining a stable construction industry.
“Well planned and targeted policy settings for services, and where necessary, investment that delivers affordable housing, are essential elements of an economic strategy for jobs, growth and healthy communities.
“Now is the time for the Australian Government to lead in the formation of these policy directions,” Mr Bicknell said.
Figures from the 2011 census indicated 105,000 Australians or around 1 in 200 people were homeless.
“We are not optimistic that the figures will have fallen in this last census period, but we are confident that if the Australian Government commits to action now, we can see a real reduction in the number of Australians without safe and affordable accommodation come 2021,” Peter Bicknell said.
UnitingCare Australia supports Homelessness Week 1 - 7 August 2016 with its theme #Homelessnesscounts.
The UnitingCare network is one of Australia’s largest providers of social services, operating across rural, remote and urban areas, providing assistance to one in eight Australians each year, and employing 40,000 staff, supported by 30,000 volunteers across 1,600 sites.