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Media Release by Senator the Hon Ursula Stephens

Mental Health Council of Australia’s Home Truths report launched

Joint Media Release with:

  • The Hon Nicola Roxon MP, Minister for Health and Ageing
  • The Hon Tanya Plibersek MP

Minister for Housing, Tanya Plibersek today officially launched the Mental Health Council of Australia’s Home Truths report.

The report highlights the importance of housing in successfully treating Australians with a mental illness and discusses the intersection of housing and mental health policy.

“I commend the Mental Health Council of Australia for commissioning this report and it is my pleasure to launch it,” Ms Plibersek said.

“The report quite rightly finds that more needs to be done across a range of services, including mental health, if homelessness is to be significantly reduced.

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

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

“The White Paper comes with a huge injection of funds. It 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.

“It includes a commitment of $800 million over the next four years for new support services for homeless people – $20 million to deliver additional community based mental health for up to 1,000 disadvantaged Australians including homeless people.

“A further $400 million over the next two financial years for specialist models of social housing, to house the homelessness. States and Territories have also agreed to implement a ‘no exits into homelessness’ policy from mental health care.”

Minister for Health Nicola Roxon said mental health issues affect a significant number of people who are homeless.

“The Homelessness White Paper sets targets on mental health and the Government remains committed to helping homeless Australians break the cycle by providing them with more options and the right support services,” Ms Roxon said.

“It complements and reinforces the Government’s commitment to re-focussing mental health policy towards prevention and early intervention.”

Parliamentary Secretary for Social Inclusion, Senator Ursula Stephens, who spoke at the launch, observed that it is people with mental illness who can suffer the greatest exclusion in our community.

“Addressing homelessness and disadvantage among people with mental illness is a key part of our social inclusion agenda, which is about ensuring all Australians have the opportunity to be fully engaged in the social and economic life our country,” said Senator Stephens.

The Rudd Government’s $6.4 billion to build 20,000 additional homes under the Nation Building and Jobs Plan as well as the $1.94 billion Remote Indigenous Housing National Partnership will also support a decrease in the level of homelessness.