Media Release by The Hon Tanya Pibersek MP

Rudd Government urges bipartisan support on homelessness

Joint Media Release with:

  • The Hon Jenny Macklin MP, Minister for Families Housing Community Services and Indigenous Affairs

The Rudd Government is urging the Opposition Leader Tony Abbott to support the Government’s targets to halve homelessness and offer accommodation to all rough sleepers who seek it by 2020.

These are ambitious targets but they are achievable. By supporting them, Mr Abbott could make halving homelessness a bipartisan national commitment.

Achieving these targets requires significant concrete action to reduce homelessness around the country. The Government urges Mr Abbott to rise to the challenge and commit to this action.

In today’s Sydney Morning Herald, Mr Abbott, is reported to have said “But we just can’t stop people from being homeless if that’s their choice or if their situation is such that it is just impossible to look after them under certain circumstances so I would rephrase a commitment like that.”

Homelessness can happen to anyone – an individual’s or family’s circumstances can change very quickly.

Nearly half of the 105,000 Australians who are homeless on a given night are under the age of 25, and more than 12,000 are children.

Australia can’t allow the 50,000 kids who pass through homeless shelters each year to be condemned to a lifetime of disadvantage.

That’s why the Rudd Government developed its White Paper on Homelessness, released in December 2008, which lays out a comprehensive plan to tackle homelessness.

We are spending more on reducing homelessness in Australia then any other Government in Australian history.

We never said this would be quick or easy. It is a huge task which is why we have a 12-year reform plan.

We remain absolutely committed to our homelessness targets and our homelessness strategies are being implemented.

The Government is:

  • Increasing spending on homelessness services by 55 per cent as a substantial down payment on a twelve year reform agenda;
  • Increasing the supply of affordable housing homes by 80,000 by mid- 2012 – 50,000 through the National Rental Affordability Scheme and 30,000 through the Nation Building Economic Stimulus Plan;
  • Providing an additional $80.4 million in emergency relief and financial counselling services until mid 2011 to support Australians through difficult times; and
  • Funding 41 specialist homelessness projects across our housing programs, to provide more than 1680 new units of accommodation