Homelessness Needs More than PM Pledge

Australia urgently needs a new four-year agreement between the Federal, State and Territory Governments if it is to achieve the homelessness targets the Prime Minister has recommitted to, says the St Vincent de Paul Society National Council of Australia.

The call comes as the Vinnies welcomed the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s renewed commitment to halve homelessness by 2020.

“All Australians need to get behind this cause so that both sides of politics realise that it is something that matters to all of us,” National President, Anthony Thornton said.

“Everyone in Australia, from the First Peoples to the most recently arrivals, and everyone in between regardless of their economic or personal circumstances, should have an appropriate place to call home.”

The Prime Minister is believed to have revived his 2008 commitment to the Homelessness White Paper targets at a meeting with the Prime Minister's Council on Homelessness in Sydney last week attended by Vinnies NSW CEO Michael Perusco.

It’s believed representatives from four Not for Profit organisations dealing with homelessness met the Prime Minister.

Perusco says that while the Federal Government’s pledge is important, it is crucial that the targets have bi-lateral support.

“The 2020 targets have meant that the Federal Government and all States and Territories, regardless of politics, are working towards reducing homelessness. Since the release of the White Paper, State and Territory Governments have been trialling new approaches to see what works best.

“Now, more than ever, we need to encourage both sides of Federal Government to recommit to making the halve homelessness by 2020 targets a priority. The reality is that when you invest in an issue you usually get results,” Perusco said.

“Too often the people experiencing homelessness in prosperous Australia are blamed for their homelessness and effectively told that it is they who must change. This is a deeply flawed approach, especially when we consider that the factors contributing to homelessness include poor health, housing stress and the need to escape domestic violence,” Vinnies Chief Executive, Dr John Falzon said.

“The truth is that it is we as a nation who must change. We therefore call on both sides of politics to unite in making a reality out of the White Paper target to halve all homelessness by 2020 and to offer a place to call home for all who are sleeping rough.

“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,” he said.

“We need especially to tackle the lack of social and affordable housing. Housing should be a human right for all, not a privilege for some.”

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