The St Vincent de Paul Society National Council is marking Homeless Persons’ Week (August 5 to 11) by calling on both sides of politics to unite in making a reality out of the White Paper target to halve all homelessness by 2020. Chief Executive, Dr John Falzon said: “There can be no higher priority for a nation that prides itself on being progressive. For in a nation as prosperous as ours there should be no place for homelessness.”
National President, Mr Anthony Thornton said: “Hidden homelessness is the theme of Homeless Persons’ Week this year. Our members across Australia come face to face with this hidden reality every day: young people couch-surfing, families forced to live in severely overcrowded and degrading conditions, people who are reluctant to access formal services.”
“Too often the people experiencing homelessness in prosperous Australia are blamed for their homelessness. This is deeply unjust, especially when we consider that the factors contributing to homelessness include poor health, housing stress and the need to escape domestic violence,” said Dr Falzon. “Safe, affordable housing is a human right for all, not a privilege for some.”
The St Vincent de Paul Society is calling for:
- A new four-year National Partnerships and Homelessness Agreement between Federal, State and Territory Governments.
- An increase in Commonwealth Rent Assistance to immediately assist those in housing stress.
- Increased investment in social housing by both government and business.
- An increase of $50 a week for the single Newstart Allowance, which is so low that it has become a barrier to employment participation and to being able to maintain accommodation, especially in the private rental market.
According to the recent ACOSS Community Sector Survey almost 80% of people presenting to housing and homeless services were wholly reliant on income support payments, and most were on low payments like Newstart.
“There are just over 105,000 people experiencing homelessness in Australia today. A lack of affordable housing continues to exclude people from the basic human right to shelter and safety,” National President, Mr Anthony Thornton said.
For more information about Homeless Persons’ Week 2013 please visit http://www.homelessnessaustralia.org.au.