ACT Council of Social Service Inc.

Justice | Equity | Social Inclusion | Reconciliation

URGENT: Act now to save homelessness services

6 December 2016

ACTCOSS has joined 209 community organisations calling on the Prime Minister to urgently intervene to avert the human, economic and policy disaster that will occur if the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness (NPAH) is defunded in 2017.

These services keep people safe, off the streets and alive. They work across the spectrum of need, including supporting women and children to overcome family violence and sexual assault, preventing homelessness for young people leaving the child protection system, and re-establishing housing for people with extreme health problems and long histories of sleeping rough.

The NPAH has been in operation for eight years and facilitates over $230 million of government investment each year, with contributions split evenly between the Federal Government and the states and territories. This funds around one-third of Australia’s total homelessness service system, providing support to around 80,000 people in crisis each year.

Homelessness is a problem in Canberra and the extent of the challenges ahead have been highlighted during our recent My Vote For Housing Campaign. The last census in 2011 reported a 70% rise in homelessness in Canberra. 1785 Canberrans were experiencing homelessness in Canberra on Census night 2011 (Australian Bureau of Statistics).

Every year more than 3500 people are supported by homelessness services in Canberra including more than 1000 kids. About 1 in 40 children aged 0 - 4 will spend time in a homelessness service each year. People who experience homelessness as kids are more likely to do so again as adults. We must intervene early to break that cycle.

Cuts to the NPAH will withdraw support from some of the most vulnerable people in our community. We will see more people living on the streets of our cities and towns, more women facing family violence and sexual assault alone, fewer young people going to school, higher unemployment, more admissions to emergency departments and the loss of lives that we can save.

The December 9 COAG meeting provides an opportunity to end the uncertainty facing Australia’s homelessness system and guarantee future support for 80,000 people who quite literally have nowhere else to turn. Without a decision before Christmas, services will be forced to start preparing for the end of the NPAH by letting staff go and closing referrals.

Please get behind the campaign to #SaveNPAH by sharing the open letter online, contacting your local MPs and making sure we secure an extension to the NPAH on Friday 9 December 2016 at COAG.