UnitingCare Australia welcomes funding certainty but calls for policy reform

UnitingCare Australia has welcomed the Prime Minister’s announcement of the extension of the Transitional National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness (NPAH) until June 2018 but says a more comprehensive, long term response strategy is required to address homelessness.

“This $117million commitment now gives frontline services certainty until June 2018 and we appreciate that the Turnbull Government has brought the announcement forward ahead of next year’s Budget,” UnitingCare Australia’s acting national director, Martin Cowling, said.

“However, with the number of Australians accessing homelessness services increasing by eight per cent since 2011-12 to more than 255,000 people in 2014-15, and our frontline services reporting increasing demand and a critical shortage of safe, affordable accommodation to house these people, it is clear that new policy directions are needed.

Martin said UnitingCare Australia was heartened that state and territory governments continued to work together on long term homelessness reform, but believes that a comprehensive national homelessness strategy, led by the Federal Government, and appropriately funded, is required to turn the deepening crisis around.

“A national homelessness 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,” he said.

“Long term planning and investment are also needed to ensure there is adequate affordable housing for low income families and individuals.

“We want the Australian Government to take leadership on this critical national issue, to work collaboratively with its state and territory colleagues, and with organisations like ourselves in the community sector, to develop a national response strategy,” Martin said.

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