“Embrace the immense multitudes of the hungry, the needy, the homeless, those without health care and, above all,
those without hope of a better future” (Pope St John-Paul II)
However, many of these people need a safe, affordable home in a friendly community, and some need decent regular work. Others need specialist attention. We are not talking about rubbish that needs to be 'cleaned out'.
According to Homelessness Australia, Victorians become homeless because of: financial difficulties (housing stress, unemployment) (22%), accommodation issues (housing crisis, inadequate or inappropriate dwellings) (29%), relationship issues (time out from family, family breakdown, violence and assault) (33%), health reasons (mental health issues, substance abuse issues) (3%) and other issues like transition from care/custody, lack of support and discrimination (14%).
Local, State and Commonwealth governments need a strategy to combat this crisis. The letter states:
The Victorian Government has committed more than $600 million to social housing and homelessness support largely in response to the Royal Commission into Family Violence. We are still awaiting the Victorian affordable housing strategy.
Our Federal Government is a long way from having a plan to tackle this problem. Meanwhile, those on lowest incomes are being pursued by automated Centrelink debt notices, reducing their already meagre incomes. This will inevitably increase homelessness.
It's not just Government and community organisations that need to work together. Public opinion appears to have hardened in recent times. Recent statements by leaders and the media are only making matters worse.
Instead, Victorians need to come together and recognise that homelessness can happen to almost anyone, and work towards building community and creating more places to live for our fellow Australians.