Opening of Ozanam Learning Centre – A new chapter in caring for homeless people
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd today opened the Sydney Ozanam Learning Centre, a facility that will provide new opportunities for homeless people.
The St Vincent de Paul Society facility will enable homeless people, and people at risk of homelessness, to participate in educational and recreational activities.
This represents a realisation that the time for providing just a hot meal and a bed is well and truly over. We need to tackle the underlying causes of homelessness.
Education is critical for people to begin participating again – in their community and in the economy.
People who are homeless will only become more excluded if they do not have access to opportunities to learn.
The opening of Ozanam marks a significant new direction for the Society’s Matthew Talbot Homeless Services, and one which runs in parallel to the Rudd Government’s direction on homelessness.
Recently released Census data from the ABS shows that despite our efforts, the numbers of homeless Australians has increased.
Every night there are now 105,000 people in Australia are homeless. This is an increase of 5,000 from Census night 2001.
That is why reducing homelessness is a major priority for the Rudd Government.
The Government’s first White Paper will set the agenda for reducing homelessness over the next decade.
The White Paper will include a national action plan to reduce homelessness.
It will be bold and ambitious, setting the agenda for reducing homelessness over the next decade to 2020.
We have had consultations on the White Paper and we are discussing the White Paper with the States and Territories – through COAG.
The White Paper is a once in a generation opportunity to drastically reduce the unacceptable rates of homelessness in Australia.
The Rudd Government congratulates the St Vincent De Paul Society on this significant achievement today.