Parliamentary committee calls for a new national strategy on homelessness

Australian governments should work together to establish a ten-year national strategy on homelessness, according to a report of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs released today.

In its report, the Committee makes 35 recommendations which propose a renewed approach to preventing and addressing homelessness in Australia.

The Committee’s recommendations include a stronger focus on prevention and early intervention, wider adoption of the ‘Housing First’ principle—which would see housing made available to people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness as an immediate priority—and new approaches to increase investment in social and affordable housing.

The Committee’s recommendations also include more crisis, emergency and transitional accommodation, improvements to data collection and reporting, and a new funding model to ensure that housing and homelessness services are provided to those most in need.

Chair of the Committee, Mr Andrew Wallace MP, highlighted that a coordinated national approach is needed to bring down the number of people who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness.

Mr Wallace said: ‘This week marks National Homelessness Week, which is a reminder that homelessness is all too common in Australia. Each night, tens of thousands of Australians are without a place to call home, while many others are at risk of becoming homeless. We know that the impacts of homelessness can be profound and long-lasting.’

‘While the states and territories are responsible for housing and homelessness, a clear and consistent message to the Committee was that there is a need for a national approach. A national strategy would lead to better coordination, more accountability and a stronger focus on the policies that work—prevention and early intervention, providing housing as a priority, and encouraging more investment in social and affordable housing.’

Mr Wallace emphasised that: ‘There is no quick fix to end homelessness in Australia, but the Committee’s recommendations set out a way forward for all three levels of government to work together, alongside community organisations and the private sector, to achieve a real reduction in the number of people who are homeless or at risk.’

A full copy of the Committee’s report can be found on the inquiry’s website.

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