The lights are on but no-one’s home

There is no home for the homeless in the Morrison Government.

Senate Estimates this week revealed that the Department of Social Services saw little role for itself, beyond payments, in the areas of Indigenous and Veteran homelessness.
“I guess there are different departments that have different parts of responsibility for this,” said one departmental officer.1

It seems that no one in the Morrison Government has overall responsibility for homelessness wherever it occurs and whoever it affects.

There are more Australians homeless today than ever before.

  • Almost half are women and children – many escaping domestic violence.
  • The fastest growing group is older women aged 65-75, with the 2016 Census identifying growth of 31 per cent. 
  • Almost 5,800 recently transitioned Australian veterans are homeless.
  • Indigenous Australians make up three per cent of the general Australian population but constitute 20 per cent of those counted as homeless in the 2016 Census. 

This isn’t good enough.  A national coordinated strategy that includes veterans, Indigenous Australians, women and children fleeing domestic violence, and older women is required.
The answers in Estimates this week show we don’t have that strategy.

Assistant Minister for Housing Luke Howarth told ABC Radio National on July 9 2019 that; “Apparently there is a million [houses] sitting vacant so I want to look at why there are so many vacant houses as a first point of priority as well.”
Estimates questioning showed that nine months later and he still had not asked the Department to start any policy work on this.2
This just isn’t good enough. It’s another example of the Morrison Government treating the most vulnerable Australians with contempt.

Senate Estimates Community Affairs, Thursday March 5, 2020 Time: 5:30mins-10:30mins
ibid. Time: 20:00mins-23:00mins