Mission Australia’s response to NSW Budget 2021-22
- With 50,000 people on the social housing wait list in NSW and homelessness on the rise, more social housing must be funded and built by the NSW Government to address this need.
- Welcome expansion of the Together Home program and investment in Aboriginal Housing, but disappointed there is not enough investment to address the severe shortage of low-cost, affordable housing.
- Welcome funding boost to domestic and family violence services, however NSW Government must do more to help people escaping domestic and family violence to avoid homelessness by boosting availability of social and affordable housing.
- Welcome investment in child and adolescent mental health.
Homelessness and housing
Mission Australia State Director, Nada Nasser welcomed the expansion of the Together Home program, which will invest in 250 new housing and support packages and extend wrap-around support to rough sleepers.
“Every new social home that is made available is welcome and will have a great impact on the lives of rough sleepers by giving them a safe and secure place to live. This program is an innovative way of encouraging investors to lend a helping hand by head leasing their property to Community Housing Providers like Mission Australia to help house people and families experiencing homelessness.
“Together Home adopts the Housing First approach, providing vulnerable people and families with the security of a safe home to set the foundation for positive life changes. From that stable base, they have access to extra support to settle into their home, maintain their tenancy and work through any underlying challenges.
“Thanks to this program, many people supported through Together Home are now safely housed, and are well on their journey towards improved health, wellbeing and long-term independence.
“While the expansion of the Together Home program is a step in the right direction, more needs to be done to address the serious shortage of social homes and rising homelessness in our State.
“There remains 50,000 people who are languishing on the NSW social housing wait list. The severe shortage of social housing and affordable rentals, high levels of housing stress, low rate of JobSeeker and other income support payments is causing an influx of financial stress, housing insecurity and homelessness.
“The focus on investment in Aboriginal housing, programs and infrastructure is welcome. We know from Census data and through our work that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are overrepresented in homelessness statistics and housing overcrowding is a major contributor to homelessness for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
“The State Budget’s investment in 250 new Aboriginal homes and upgrades to existing homes is a promising step to address this inequality, but it is simply not enough to end the homelessness and overcrowding experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
“We also welcome the announcement that a regional housing taskforce will be set up to combat housing supply shortage across NSW. Our regional services have seen time and again the impact of rising housing costs, which are pushing many towards housing instability and risk of homelessness. We look forward to hearing more detail about this important initiative.
While we welcome any investment in housing and homelessness in NSW, we note that other state governments have recently made much more significant budget announcements in this area, including the Queensland Government which last week announced a $2.9 billion investment in housing and homelessness initiatives and the Victorian Government who announced a spend of $5.3 billion. This shows the scale of investment needed to address the supply gap in social housing and the needs of people affected by or at risk of homelessness.”
Domestic and family violence and homelessness
Mission Australia State Director, Nada Nasser said Mission Australia is pleased to see an increase in support for women and children impacted by domestic and family violence.
“The Staying Home Leaving Violence program is an important response to help women and children who have been subject to domestic and family violence to stay in their homes and their community. The additional funding for the Staying Home Leaving Violence and other frontline services is a much-needed contribution to the wellbeing of women and children in NSW.”
However, Ms Nasser said the government needs to do more to help people to safely escape domestic and family violence by increasing the supply of affordable housing options, including social housing.
“Domestic and family violence is one of the main reasons women and children are pushed into homelessness in Australia. Significantly in 2019-20, women and children who had experienced domestic and family violence made up 35% of those seeking support from Specialist Homelessness Services in NSW.
“In NSW there are around 50,000 people on social housing waiting lists. This backlog means women and children escaping domestic and family violence are often left with nowhere suitable to live, trapping them in their circumstances.
“Of course, emergency accommodation offers immediate safety. But there remains a lack of available, permanent and safe homes for victim-survivors and their children. There is an urgent need for more innovative ways to increase the supply of social and affordable homes to help prevent homelessness occurring when people are escaping violent situations.”
Child and adolescent mental health
Mission Australia welcomes the additional support for children and adolescents experiencing a mental health crisis.
Mission Australia State Director Nada Nasser said “It is encouraging to see increased State Government efforts to address mental health concerns among young Australians at a time when so many have been affected by the events of the past year.
“Offering these tailored services is an important step towards ensuring evidence-based universal mental health prevention and intervention programs are available to every young person, irrespective of where they live.
“Our Youth Survey 2020 completed by 6,639 young people in NSW found the top three of personal concern for young people from NSW were coping with stress, mental health and school or study problems. More than four in 10 respondents from NSW indicated they were they were extremely or very concerned about coping with stress.
”We know from last year’s survey that young people have been bearing the brunt of the impacts of COVID-19 in terms of a range of issues including mental health.
“While we welcome the further investment in youth mental health, there are still gaps in our service system. We hope to see even greater investment to ensure the services are available and accessible to every young person at their time of need, including investment in early intervention.”
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