STORY AND PHOTO BY AMANDA PARKINSON (first published on Sydney Tafe Media)
Twilight glistens across the city. Wind tumbles down Martin Place. Precious pearls and Armani coats are locked away, cosy and safe behind the glass of shop windows. Adorning the shops’ steps, beneath tattered blankets Sydney’s homeless sleep. Tonight 22,000 Australians will sleep rough. 220,000 Australians will access homelessness services this year. 80 per cent of families seeking refugee will be turned away. And 2 in 3 children won’t receive support.
Last week marked National Homeless Persons’ Week. Events were held across all states to raise awareness of our national crisis. The week focused on educating communities about intervention and prevention. Narelle Clay, National Chairperson of Homelessness Australia, said early intervention is vital in preventing chronic homelessness.
“We need to pay attention to the risk of homelessness,” she said. “The number of women and children living inside their home but every night fearful of violence is another way of thinking about homelessness.”
Not-For-Profit organisations collaborated to call on the Federal Government to extend the state-federal National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness (NPAH) beyond June 2013. Under the $1.1 billion agreement, all states committed to halving homelessness by 2020. But funding is due to be cut from next year’s budget.
In a statement released by Mission Australia, Service Impact Director Eleri Morgan-Thomas said homeless service providers had received clear signals from state governments to prepare for funding cuts.“The National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness has developed and improved 180 homeless services around the country,” she said. “Even with that unprecedented level of funding Australia’s homeless situation remains serious. That’s because, prior to the NPAH, Australia under-invested in homeless services and social housing over a generation. That will take more than four years to turn around.”
Without NPAH, many homeless services providers will close, increasing the strain on public housing and state-run shelters. One in 200 Australians will experience homelessness, and with the rising cost of private rent that number is predicted to rise.