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Minister is on the right track: Homeless Persons Week 2012

The St Vincent de Paul Society National Council of Australia has welcomed today’s statement made by the Minister for Homelessness, Brendan O’Connor, recognising the need to give people who are homeless permanent accommodation first and then provide the appropriate services to assist them.

Chief Executive Dr John Falzon said that this was exactly what the Society had been calling for.

“It sounds simple, but giving someone a home, rather than just a place to sleep for the night, and then tailoring support services to suit the individual is the most workable and respectful approach and really the only long term solution to homelessness,” Dr Falzon said. The Minister was in Helsinki, Finland assessing the success of that country’s approach to homelessness when he made the comments that aired on ABC Radio’s AM Program this morning. Dr Falzon said that the policy had dramatically reduced the level of homelessness in Finland.

“For this policy to successfully translate to Australia we will need systematic investment in social housing and this should be led by state and federal governments but should also involve the private sector. We also need to bite the bullet and commit ourselves to the Gonski reforms on education. The prioritisation of building a world standard public education system that guarantees the highest quality education, especially for kids experiencing disadvantage, is one of the smartest investments we can make in preventing homelessness beyond 2020 as well,” Dr Falzon said.

National President, Mr Anthony Thornton, said: “We continue to be deeply saddened that a wealthy country like ours still has such high levels of homelessness. The least we can do is to ensure that everyone enjoys the right to appropriate housing and to high quality education. We shouldn’t be afraid to learn from Finland’s successes in reducing homelessness and neither should we overlook the fact that education is so highly valued and so universally accessible in that country.”

For more on Homeless Persons Week go to Homelessness Australia or follow the #HPW2012 hash tag on Twitter.

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