Media Release by The Hon Tanya Pibersek MP

New report finds homeless Sydneysiders need more than just a bed and a hot meal

I am pleased to today launch the Wesley Mission report: More than a bed: Sydney’s homeless speak out.

The Wesley report shows that homelessness can happen to any of us and that the response needs to be more than just a bed and a hot meal.

The Wesley report identifies the underlying causes and complex needs of people who are homeless.

Affordable housing and relationship breakdown were found in the study to be leading causes of homelessness.

Drug and alcohol addiction and mental health issues were found to often keep people in homelessness.

What is striking about the Wesley report is that 32 per cent of respondents said they had been homeless for more than five years.

After 17 years of strong economic growth it is unacceptable that 100,000 Australians are homeless on any given night, including 10,000 children. We owe it to homeless Australians to do better.

The Wesley report suggests that longer term support and better integration of services for homeless people is needed to reduce the critically high rates of homelessness.

The Australian Government agrees that an integrated approach will help us stem the flow of people into homelessness, particularly our young people and families.

Longer term support means that homeless people – once housed – do not return to homelessness.

The Government’s Green Paper Which Way Home? was released in May.

We have held public consultations and received written submissions from homeless people, service providers, the business sector and the community.

The Government is now developing its White Paper which will set the agenda for reducing homelessness over the next decade.

The White Paper, which will be delivered in September, will include a comprehensive, national action plan to reduce homelessness.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has made reducing homelessness a national priority.

As the Wesley report shows, the causes and drivers of homelessness are complex. But the Government is confident that by taking action now, we can reduce homelessness over the next decade.