Last week the NSW Government released a discussion paper on homelessness, as part of the process of developing a comprehensive strategy to reduce homelessness across the state. PIAC has welcomed ‘Foundations for Change,’ as a once in a decade opportunity to tackle increasing rates of homelessness.
PIAC’s consumer advisory committee, StreetCare, contributed to the development of the discussion paper, through our representation on the Premier’s Council on homelessness.
In September and October, StreetCare will build on this contribution by undertaking extensive interviews with people experiencing homelessness to ensure that their views are heard.
You can read StreetCare members’ initial comments on what they would like to see in the final homelessness strategy below.
There has been a long overdue need for the Government to develop a clear narrative and plan to respond to the rapidly increasing levels of homelessness in New South Wales. The rise in rough sleeping in the inner city in recent years is inexcusable in Australia in 2016.
As part of the Strategy, the Government must set clear, specific measureable targets to reduce the number of rough sleepers over the next two years. Why can’t we just commit to reducing homelessness by at least one person per week for the next two years?
It’s about people on the streets at the moment. There are some very unwell people on the streets right now. They don’t see a future. They need help now. They’ve gotta be the priority. We can’t forget about the people on the streets right now.
With 37.5% of people experiencing homeless being under the age of 24 years of age, I would like to see a focus on addressing youth homelessness. I would like to see an approach to homelessness that considers the unique experiences, and diverse needs of young people experiencing homelessness.
For decades different governments have failed to address the shameful crisis of homelessness in Australia. They have stuck their heads in the sand, refusing to recognise the full extent of this tragedy. Their failure is disgraceful! The number of homeless people in Australia should never have go to this level.
As Government is increasingly looking to non-government community housing to address the need for more social and affordable housing, there is a pressing need for better, clearer and more accessible information for homeless people about their housing options with community housing providers. A lot of homeless people just don’t understand the pathways to community housing as an option for getting into stable accommodation.
Homeless people need information that is clear, understandable and accessible so they can find out about their housing options.
Homelessness organisations need to be more accountable for providing the services that they are funded to provide. People who are homeless need to have confidence in the services so they can move on with their lives. If they haven’t got the confidence in the services that are there to help to them, how can they have confidence in themselves to get back on their feet?
There needs to be more advocacy support services, particularly for women fleeing domestic violence in regional areas. Having somebody there to navigate the services for them, because it is hard to reach out to anyone when you’re a battered women. Someone taking that extra step for women who are about to become homeless because of domestic violence. Because those women just don’t know what else to do. You can’t just give her a pamphlet, but when you are traumatised you can’t read a pamphlet.
Support services need to be able to maintain that contact with that woman once she has been housed to make sure she is alright and can maintain that accommodation.
Past StreetCare member (Anon), 2016.
The Government has to be more focussed on helping people who are homeless – more emergency accommodation for women who are fleeing domestic violence, and more crisis accommodation in different areas, not just in inner Sydney.
Women should never have to risk their lives by staying in a violent relationship out of fear that if they leave they will be homeless.
Participant, Homeless Women’s Consultation, 2016.