The largest providers of homelessness services across Australia joined forces to call on all political parties to make reducing homelessness a national priority.
In a joint letter to the four party leaders, the major charities Anglicare, Mission Australia, Salvation Army, St Vincent de Paul, UnitingCare Australia and Wesley Mission demanded a commitment to halving homelessness by 2025.
The organisations have also launched a petition to generate public support for the campaign during the Federal Election and invited the party leaders to a forum with their clients in June.
On any given night over 100,000 Australians are homeless – including over 44, 000 children or young people. And each year more than 200,000 people seek help from homelessness services.
The numbers are growing and the organisations say it needs Federal Government leadership to reverse that trend. They’ve urged each party to commit to expanding prevention and early intervention services. These should include strategies aimed at identified risk factors and population groups including women and children escaping domestic and family violence, young people leaving care, and older people in the private rental market.
Martin J Cowling, associate national director, UnitingCare Australia said “Access to stable and safe housing underpins well-functioning families and communities. Australia has the resources to ensure that everyone experiences belonging in a safe and supportive community, with appropriate, affordable housing.
“Various groups in our community are more vulnerable to homelessness. Many experience barriers to housing that are related to their personal situation, such as domestic violence or mental health issues.
“Whilst solutions may require increased expenditure in the short term, action now will enable governments to avoid the high costs of dealing with the wider effects of homelessness once it occurs. Successfully addressing this issue will require collaboration between different levels of government, and with private and not-for-profit organisations.”