A cramped and stuffy car, parked on the side of a busy road. Rain spits through the cracks in the window, your children are scared. It’s tough for you and your family, but this vehicle is your home for now.

Be it rough sleeping, couch surfing or living in overcrowded or precarious accommodation – there are now more than 116,000 people in Australia experiencing homelessness, according to the latest census figures.

Nobody in the community services sector will be surprised by these statistics. They reflect what Mission Australia staff and clients have been saying for years – that more and more people who are experiencing, or at risk of homelessness are seeking out our services.

Today, I was proud to represent Mission Australia at the National Press Club in Canberra to launch the Everybody’s Home campaign. I joined with other representatives from peak organisations, charities and community housing providers to speak up for people across the country who are struggling to find a safe and secure home.

The atmosphere in the room was one of positive determination with more than 100 leaders standing together, united as one voice – calling for Australia’s fractured and disconnected housing system to be fixed.

The problems we face are not new, they’ve been recognised by politicians, community service organisations, government providers and members of the public for a long time. The housing market is not delivering for those on the lowest incomes and the lack of appropriate social and affordable housing is contributing to the alarming rise in homelessness.

Currently there are 200,000 people on social housing waiting lists across Australia and it is thought that up to half of ever growing tenants are spending more than a third of their income on rent (defined as rental stress) in the private rental housing market.

This is why we all need to join together to demand a better system.

The Everybody’s Home campaign calls for 500,000 more social and affordable rental homes to meet Australia’s identified shortfall; and the development of a plan to end homelessness by 2030, among other key targets.

In order for these targets to be met, we all need to join together to address the issue – all governments, community housing providers, property developers and community service organisations. A great example of this is the Ivanhoe project in Sydney’s north-west.

Led by the NSW Government, Mission Australia has joined with Frasers Property Australia and Citta Property Group to redevelop the estate using an evidence-based model for an inclusive and integrated community that provides homes and a community for people from varied socio-economic backgrounds. The new community will integrate private housing with new social and affordable homes, with Mission Australia providing key wrap-around community support services.

I see the good work our services do every day but without governments driving social and affordable housing and the plan to end homelessness that we’re calling for, the rates of homelessness will likely continue to rise.

I think it’s fair to say we all agree that everybody deserves a home – so I encourage you to show your support by signing up and joining the campaign.

Photo of James Toomey, CEO of Mission Australia

 

James Toomey
CEO Mission Australia
@jbc_toomey

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Purpose - 'Inspired by Jesus Christ, Mission Australia exists to meet human need and to spread the knowledge of the love of God'