Uniting Vic.Tas CEO, Bronwyn Pike today welcomed the release of a new Victorian parliamentary committee report which urged the Victorian Government to urgently address the state’s growing homelessness crisis.
Among the 51 recommendations in the report, the report urges the Government to increase the provision of affordable, stable and long-term housing, prioritise and strengthen early invention such as tenancy support programs and greater assistance for people fleeing family violence, new and innovative accommodation options and social housing which better meets the needs of those experiencing homelessness.
“We can’t continue to allow the most vulnerable people in our society to keep falling through the cracks,” Ms Pike said.
“Ending homelessness for good has to be our priority. That means even more investment from both State and Federal Governments in social housing, making housing more affordable and improving support.
“Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s been a significant increase in homeless numbers which have stretched our services to the limit. The funding the State Government has provided for more social housing is a start, but we desperately need more intake and assessment workers at homelessness entry points so we can meet the demand.
“We often associate the idea of homelessness as somebody who is sleeping rough on the city streets, but that’s only a small part of the problem.
“In Melbourne’s outer suburbs and in cities and small towns across regional Victoria, there are thousands of people not only sleeping rough, but couch surfing or living in emergency or temporary accommodation and even in cars, including many women who have fled family violence.
“We know that safe and secure housing is a major factor in helping get a person’s life on track and it’s only once they secure housing can they address any issues they may have with employment, mental health or alcohol and drugs.
“The current Jobseeker rate is a major barrier to hundreds of thousands of Victorians being able to escape homelessness, secure a house, pay the rent and put food on the table.
“The recent $50 a fortnight increase was nowhere near enough and will only push people further into poverty and that’s why we’ll continue to advocate for a higher rate which pushes people above the poverty live and affords them a basic standard of living.”