Search Toggle

Homeless rates increase despite Rudd’s pledge

PRIME Minister Kevin Rudd’s election promise in 2007 to halve homelessness by 2020 does not appear to be on track with homeless rates on the rise.

In Canberra between 1200 and1500 people are sleeping rough each night. St Vincent De Paul’s Samaritan House in Hackett is turning away about eight single men a day because they do not have the room.

St Vincent De Paul’s director of special works for the Goulburn-Canberra region, Shannon Pickles, said one of the main reasons that the homelessness is rising is due to the lack of affordable housing.

Mr Pickles said that many homeless people are dealing with a mental illness, and this should to be addressed.

“They [theFederal Government] need to spend a lot more money on support services.”

Liberal Senator Gary Humphries agrees that the housing problem needs to be fixed to combat homelessness.

“We have to make it possible for people to buy their first house,” he said.

The Federal Government will be spending $10 million on personal mentors to help homeless people with a mental illness. According to Mr Pickles this is just what is needed to make a difference.

“Any sort of mentoring or support programs are actually quite crucial and vital,” he said. “That’s one of the big factors that’s missing .”

However, Senator Humphries says this equates to $33 per homeless person per year and believes it is not enough.

“Given the size of the problem and the way in which we have to deal with a whole range of issues to deal with homelessness, a token $33 per year doesn’t go very far to deal with a major national problem,” he said.

Senator Humphries said that it was very dangerous to commit to halving homelessness unless at the same time a plan is produced to get there and the dollars to go with it, something he does not see that the government has done.

“A Coalition government would not be making such a promise unless and until we could actually show that we could reach that goal,” he said.

Despite the rise in homelessness, Mr Pickles says ithas received more funding and focus since 2007 than it has in “the last several decades”.

“We’re seeing a lot of new services, a lot of new innovation, a lot of new attempts to try and make things better,” He said Mr Pickles said that even though the rate of homelessness is on the rise, it is not an indication of lack of effort on behalf of either community services or housing.

“There are some things that just go above and beyond what funding levels are there,” he said.

Recent Comments


Personal mentoring for our homeless is emphatically NOT "just what is needed to make a difference". Just what is needed, just what will make a difference, is housing: simple, secure, long-term, low cost homes. In Victoria the number of homeless who are severely mentally ill (with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and/or severe clinical depression) is said by David Wright-Howie, director, Council to the Homeless, to be about 40% of our homeless, some 10,000 people of a total 25,000. In 2004 the labor government commissioned a report on mental health from the Boston Consulting Group. This report, extensive and thorough, stated that the seriously mentally ill (SMI) must be provided with adequate, secure, low cost, long term housing; the report shows how this would, in the long term, save money and also help ensure whatever recovery is possible for people with these incurable biological diseases of the brain. The report was published in 2006 and since then housing provision for the SMI has decreased in Victoria. The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission has stated: of the biggest obstacles in the lives of people with a mental illness is the absence of adequate, affordable and secure accommodation. Living with a mental illness--or recovering from it--is difficult in the best of circumstances. Without a decent place to live it is virtually impossible. This, from what is known as the"Burdekin Report", was published SEVEVTEEN years ago. Tragically, it has been ignored by every state and federal government since then. And the suicide rate of the seriously mentally ill continues to rise. We need not wonder why.

Post Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *