National strategy needed to ‘turn off the tap’ on homelessness | The mail

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A national strategy is urgently needed to end homelessness, advocates say, with calls for change amplified as the federal election approaches. More work is needed to tackle the key drivers through targeted prevention and early intervention programs to ‘turn off the tap’ of homelessness, a new report on ending homelessness in Australia has revealed. The Center for Social Impact report released on Monday said increasing the supply of social and affordable housing aimed at ending homelessness was one of five key actions needed. The report also calls for improving data quality, service delivery and funding allocations. The Australian Alliance to End Homelessness says that ending homelessness is possible and that many countries around the world are working towards this goal. United Ballarat data shows more than 76 people sleeping rough in the Central Highlands region and more than 200 households waiting on the housing and support priority list. Homeless Services in Victoria was forced to turn away 133 people seeking help each day in 2020-21, a 23 per cent increase on the previous year. Services in Ballarat cannot keep up with demand, with many people left homeless due to a lack of affordable and available private rentals and a dried up supply of social housing. RELATED COVERAGE: Ballarat’s homelessness rate nearly doubles the Australian average Council to Homeless Persons calls for a permanent increase in homeless service workers as there has been no increase in staffing at Victoria since 2009 despite growing demand. A growing number of people in Victoria are struggling with housing, with 46.7% of households receiving Commonwealth rent assistance spending more than 30% of their income on housing. This is up from 28.7% in 2020, when people received higher income support payments through JobKeeper or the coronavirus supplement. Data analysis shows that people experience homelessness for an average of 3.8 years, with 40% reporting many years of homelessness. The prevalence of serious long-term medical conditions and diagnosed mental health conditions was significantly higher in the homeless population than in the general population. RELATED COVERAGE: Call to halve homelessness over the next decade as more people in Ballarat struggle to live. This included hepatitis C, cancer, post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia and depression. Severe brain injury or head trauma is very common among homeless people, especially veterans. A large proportion of those interviewed said they had been placed in out-of-home and/or juvenile detention as children and adolescents, reflecting long periods of vulnerability over the course of their lives. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people made up 3% of Australia’s population in 2016, yet accounted for 20% of all homeless people on census night in 2016. Data shows that the number of homeless people is growing and that available data the supply of social and affordable housing is unable to meet current needs and demand. Domestic and family violence is the leading cause of homelessness among women and their children. The causes of homelessness are complex, including housing availability and affordability, economic and employment opportunities, physical and mental health issues, and social and community connections. Have you subscribed to The Courier’s variety of informational emails? You can sign up below and make sure you’re up to date with everything happening in Ballarat.

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