During a post Budget interview, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull made the comment that wealthy parents should help their kids onto the property ladder.

Ignoring the fact that said parents would need to be incredibly wealthy in order to finance a home for even one child in many of our cities. Mr Turnbull’s misjudged comment ignores the very real issues in the housing market today. Real issues that the Government’s recent budget did little to ease.

It ignores the fact that a growing number of lower paid people struggle to find affordable rental accommodation in our cities, let alone aspire to own their own home.

For many of those people - that basic human right to shelter, a secure location to sleep, a place to call home - is absent.

There simply isn’t enough housing that’s affordable for people on low and moderate incomes. The most recent figures show a shortage of over 400,000 affordable homes in Australia.

Mission Australia and other support services see the human effects of this every day, as people ask for help to find somewhere to live. Women and children who have had to flee the family home due to domestic violence. Teenagers who can’t go back home because of abuse. Older women whose landlords have put up the rent to a level that just can’t be met from their income.

Housing is a necessity because it is the foundation that allows individuals’ participation in the workforce. Secure, affordable housing is also a central piece of our national economic infrastructure. Overly high housing costs also restrict people’s ability to invest and save for retirement. Increased homelessness increases the costs to the health and justice systems, so doing nothing is actually more expensive for Australian taxpayers.

As Scott Morrison said, “there are few issues more important to ensuring the welfare of Australians than housing”. So it was disappointing there was nothing new in the Budget to address the rising rate of homelessness or the acute shortage of social and affordable housing.

It also did not include an extension for the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness. This means that these services – which help about 80,000 homeless people each year – face an unknown future.

Let’s be clear about this, the current rates of homelessness are unacceptable for a prosperous country like Australia. Of particular concern are the more than 44,000 children and young people who are homeless.

Our homelessness action plan sets out a way to halve homelessness by 2025. We know what works to prevent and stop homelessness – and we are delivering results. With the right commitments from governments and community partners, working together, Australia can achieve this goal.

Catherine Yeomans

 

Catherine Yeomans
CEO Mission Australia
@cathyeomans

 

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