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Media Release by Senator the Hon Mark Arbib

Minister congratulates Street Socceroos on Fair Play Award

Minister for Social Housing and Homelessness and Minister for Sport Mark Arbib today congratulated Australia’s Street Socceroos for winning the Fair Play Award in the 2011 Homeless World Cup in France.

Senator Arbib praised the team for taking out the prestigious award and paid tribute to their passion and sportsmanship.

“These Australians have already shown great courage and strength in transforming their lives and this international tournament has given them the chance to show their talents and represent their country,” Senator Arbib said.

“Out of 48 teams competing from 53 countries, The Big Issue’s Australian team achieved six wins over India, Korea, Finland, Japan, Hong Kong and Hungary between 21-28 August.”

Senator Arbib said the Homeless World Cup, which had been running since 2003, turned the international spotlight on to the struggles and triumphs of people who are homeless.

“Many homeless Australians are not just without a home, they also struggle with mental illness, health issues and social isolation – and the sheer drive they have shown to overcome their battles, is inspiring,” Senator Arbib said.

“I commend the spirit and drive of this year’s team for their achievements. We are a nation that loves its sport, and I know all Australians would be proud of The Big Issue’s Australian team and its tremendous effort in the tournament.

“The Australian Government has long been a strong supporter of The Big Issue and its many causes, particularly the Community Street Soccer Program, where we have invested $4.45 million since its launch in 2007 to help continue this great cause.”

Senator Arbib said tackling homelessness required more than just putting a roof over someone’s head.

“The Australian Government is continuing to invest in outreach services, accommodation support, employment and health services, which are all critical to reducing the number of Australians who find themselves homeless, or at risk of homelessness,” Senator Arbib said.

“Since 2008, we have increased funding to address homelessness by almost $5 billion, including for the building of more than 10,000 new homes for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness.

“The Gillard Government has committed to a long-term plan and to reducing the rate of homelessness by twenty per cent by 2013 and halving the overall rate by 2020.”