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Media Release by The Hon Tanya Pibersek MP

Government to set agenda on homelessness for the next decade

Joint Media Release with:

  • The Hon Kevin Rudd MP, Prime Minister of Australia

The Rudd Government will develop a comprehensive, long-term plan to tackle homelessness as a matter of national priority.

The Government will build on its $150 million election commitment to construct new homes for Australians in crisis accommodation by developing a White Paper on how Australia can systematically reduce homelessness over the next decade.

Given the urgency the Rudd Government attaches to reducing homelessness, the Prime Minister has directed that the White Paper be completed by August.

The Prime Minister has appointed Tony Nicholson, Executive Director of the Brotherhood of St Laurence, to lead a Steering Committee of experts to oversee the process.

Additional members of the Steering Group will be appointed in the coming weeks.

The Prime Minister, who will tonight speak at the launch of a public appeal for St Vincent de Paul, said it was clear the Australian Government must do more to prevent homelessness.

“As I have been visiting homelessness shelters across the country, I have become convinced of the need for a new approach to homelessness.

“After 16 years of economic growth, it is unacceptable that on any one night 100,000 Australians are homeless.

“10,000 of those Australians are children under the age of 12.

“The United Kingdom and some parts of the United States have achieved major reductions in homelessness. Some Australian States and Territories have already begun to run services that build on this work.

“We need a new approach that prevents homelessness, improves crisis services, helps people to get long term secure housing and stops the cycle of homelessness.’

“One of our first priorities must be to dramatically reduce the number of Australians sleeping rough each night.

“It is estimated that around 14,000 Australians are in this terrible situation.

“We must also work to better connect homeless shelters with mainstream services – housing, health and most importantly, the world of work.

“This means Government, business, community and charitable groups – a whole of community effort.”

The Government has already committed $150M to build 600 new homes for people in crisis accommodation and $2.8M to run social and community programs such as the renowned ‘Choir of Hard Knocks’.

The , Tanya Plibersek, will have responsibility for the Green Paper, the consultation process and completing a White Paper that will provide a plan of action for the next decade.