Plea to help halve homelessness

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Catherine Yeomans

Hundreds of people in Penrith don’t have a safe, permanent place to call home, and that number is rising according to Mission Australia CEO Catherine Yeomans.

In a visit to Kingswood’s Mission Australia homelessness support centre on Wednesday, Ms Yeomans encouraged Government and the local community to help halve homelessness by 2025.

“We know homelessness is a big issue here in Penrith, and more broadly in NSW and since the most recent Census we expect that these numbers are on the rise,” she said.

Kingswood is one of the stops on a national tour for Ms Yeomans who is meeting with ministers to discuss funding certainty.

“We are urging the State and Commonwealth governments to come to a speedy agreement on the future of this funding to ensure vulnerable people have the support they need after June 2017 and so that homelessness is reduced rather than increased in the future,” she said.

The current NSW and Commonwealth Government commitment of $65 million a year to NSW homelessness services through the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness is due to expire in June 2017.

With no replacement funding in sight, she urges governments to commit to develop a national plan to combat homelessness and include programs addressing domestic and family violence, alcohol and drug issues and youth homelessness.

“We need to come together as a nation to tackle homelessness. Not only does it cause trauma for the individuals and families impacted, but it is also a major drain on governments’ budgets,” she said.

“If we can intervene early to stop people becoming homeless in the first place, governments save money on health, justice and crisis services and vulnerable people are not left without a home.”

Kingswood’s Mission Australia Centre brings together services including Fairfax House, Youth and Family Specialist Homelessness Services, Family Day Care, and Families NSW Programs including Young Parents programs and Paint Penrith REaD community literacy strategy.

Through these services, Ms Yeomans said they know what works.

“We need to prevent people in high-risk groups from becoming homeless, fund evidence-based programs for people who are already homeless and ensure enough homes for people on low incomes,” she said.

“We must harness the support of everyone to bring these numbers down, rather than continue their upwards trajectory.”

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