Media Release by The Hon Tanya Pibersek MP

AIHW Report highlights importance of Homelessness White Paper

The Government welcomes today’s release of the AIHW’s state and territory Counting the Homeless Reports – which compare figures taken on census night in 2001 with surveys done in 2006.

The research identified 105,000 people in 2006 as either living rough or having no permanent accommodation compared to 99,900 in 2001.

The research found there was a 17 per cent increase in the number of homeless families between 2001 and 2006, while the number of people aged over 55 who were homeless increased by 30 per cent.

The research also showed that the only group of people not to record increases over the five-year period were children living on their own aged from 12 to 18.

The Counting the Homeless reports are useful to the Government as they provide the level of detail required to respond to homelessness – at a Commonwealth, State and local level.

The Rudd Government’s Homelessness White Paper called for an increased focus on early intervention services and as the report authors have said, family support and early intervention services are an effective way to reduce homelessness.

The Government’s challenge is to use this information to ensure that homeless Australians will have access to the services they need.

The Government’s Homelessness White Paper – released last December – provides an additional $1.2 billion over four years – a 55 per cent increase in investment in homelessness and a substantial down payment on a twelve year reform agenda.

The Homelessness White Paper contains ambitious targets – to halve homelessness and offer accommodation to all rough sleepers who seek it by 2020.

A total of 48 dwellings have already been purchased under the Government’s $150 million election commitment ‘A Place to Call Home’.

The Government is also investing $6.4 billion to build 20,000 social housing dwellings across Australia as part of the Nation Building Economic Stimulus Plan.

More than 16,000 essential home repairs and maintenance have been completed, which will enable greater access to public housing previously unable to be tenanted to be accessed by the homeless.

Construction work has commenced on more than 950 new social housing dwellings across the country, while more than 7,000 new homes have been approved for construction.

And in recognition of the increasing need due to the global financial crisis, the Government is providing an 80 per cent increase to emergency relief on the base funding from previous years.

An additional $55 million over the next two years will be delivered to emergency relief providers to meet increased demand and fill critical service gaps. This means that over the next two years more than $120 million in emergency relief funding will be in communities, helping an estimated one million Australians each year.