Doorstop Interview – St Kilda – Monday 3 May 2021

MONDAY, 3 May 2021

SUBJECTS: Need for Government to invest in social and affordable housing in the Budget.

DAVID PARGETER, MINISTER OF ST KILDA UNITING CHURCH: My name is David Pargeter, I’m the Minister of Uniting Church here in St Kilda. I’ve been here a few years now in this inner city congregation. We’re standing beside the engagement hub, which is part of the Uniting Care. Originally, it was set up by the Uniting Church 40 years ago, it has been running for 40 years and we’re one of the few around here that tried to provide services to people with significant mental health issues, for people who are homeless, sleeping rough, struggling to get through the week. We try and provide a safe place for them to come and be a part of the community. We’ve also got Josh, our local member here, so I’ll let him speak.

JOSH BURNS, MEMBER FOR MACNAMARA: Thanks very much. It is amazing to be here at the engagement hub. This place has been a part of St Kilda for a long time now. It’s where people have come in for a meal and come in for a chat, and really come in to feel like themselves again. Come in to feel like a normal person going about their day. That’s what this place has been for a long, long time. It’s been a place where people can just come in and engage, have a meal and feel more like themselves and secure. This is a hub for a lot of these sorts of organisations. It’s a place where people have access to services, homelessness services, but there is always too much demand and not enough supply. What we need, unfortunately, is not for the Federal Government to fob everything off to the states. We need the Federal Government to accept responsibility and accept the fact that they have a role to play in providing housing and homelessness services to people, just like here in St Kilda in my electorate. That’s why Jason Clare is here today. He is a champion for the federal government doing more, and he’s a champion for people who need more housing and need more services. I’m going to hand over to Jason Clare, the Shadow Minister for Housing, to say a few words.

JASON CLARE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS: Thanks, Josh. And thank you, Reverend. Thank you, everybody, for the work that you do in helping Australians who need a helping hand. Last year, a virus showed us that if we really want to, we can do something to reduce homelessness in Australia. We did it. Lots of people from across the country who were sleeping rough, sleeping in cars, sleeping on trains, were put in empty hotels and motel rooms to keep them safe. Because last year, having a roof over your head was more important than having a mask on your face. But now, many of those Aussies are back on the street.

With only a week or so to go until the Federal Budget, now is the time to say to Josh Frydenberg and Scott Morrison, that if you’re serious about wanting to make Australia an even better place, then you need to make sure there’s money in the Budget to put a roof over the heads of Aussies who don’t have one today. 

The Budget is only a bit over a week away. There’s talk in that the Budget is going to focus on funding to help women who need extra security and extra safety. If the Government is serious about that, then they’ll put money into housing. Not just crisis accommodation, but transitional accommodation, and long term housing for women and kids fleeing domestic violence. 

Last year, in the middle of the pandemic, 10,000 mums and kids fleeing domestic violence, often in the middle of the night, were turned away from refuges because there just wasn’t a bed. Just think about that: 10,000 mums and kids fleeing domestic violence last year got turned away from refuges because there wasn’t a bed. That’s the challenge we have today. That’s a challenge that Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg can fix if they’re prepared to put money into this in the Budget next week. 

The Victorian Government has stepped up with a massive investment of more than $5 billion to build the social housing that we need here in Victoria. We need other states to do that. We need the Federal Government to step up as well and to build the sort of housing that we need to house homeless Aussies to provide shelter for women and kids fleeing domestic violence.

If they’re serious about women’s safety, then there will be money in the Budget next Tuesday night to build, not just crisis accommodation, not just transitional accommodation, and permanent accommodation for women and kids fleeing domestic violence. Thanks very much.