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Human Rights and Housing Legislation Amendment (Ending Homelessness) Bill 2022

Mar 24, 2022 | Advocacy, News, Parliament

We are going to be under the pump for time again. I rise to speak on the Human Rights and Housing Legislation Amendment (Ending Homelessness) Bill 2022. It is no secret that homelessness is an issue close to my heart. As many of you would know, I successfully brought forward a motion to begin an inquiry into homelessness in Victoria. The inquiry made 52 recommendations to the government on how we can better tackle homelessness, so I will not go over all of those things again here now. I would just like to point out that, like Mr Gepp, I lived in government housing in Braybrook and I lived in government housing in Frankton, and I am really proud of it—some of the best years as a kid, playing cricket in the street and all those sorts of things.

Almost 40 per cent of people who are homeless have nowhere to go, and only three in every 10 individuals are assisted into housing. We have to ask: how many people do not seek assistance, how many young people are couch surfing to avoid entering the foster system and how many women are staying in violent relationships because they have nowhere else to go? These issues lie beneath the surface. In the leafy green eastern suburbs in my electorate homelessness is often hidden, but it is there. Homelessness is far-reaching. Many people are only a couple of pay cheques short of having nowhere to live. This is a real and immediate problem. That is why legislating a right to housing in the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities is so important. This was a recommendation from the inquiry into homelessness; it is essential to recognise everyone’s rights to safe and stable housing.

Human Rights and Housing Legislation Amendment (Ending Homelessness) Bill 2022

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This bill introduces a target to end homelessness by 2030. Government responses to homelessness have typically been short-sighted. Of course there is focus from budget to budget but no long-term planning. Putting a target in place provides a structure for the government to take action and take action in that time frame. Right now we have the Big Housing Build. This is a $5.3 billion investment into building more social and affordable housing, but even after the Big Housing Build, Victoria will still fall behind the national average of social housing dwellings, which is 4.5 per cent. And there we can talk about what Mr Hayes talked about—population growth. A 2030 target to end homelessness will introduce much-needed long-term planning in the housing sector, requiring the government to build a plan around this target and report on their progress, and it will hold them accountable.

Right now we are relying on so many community organisations, many made up of volunteers who rely on donations. Everyone working in this space is overwhelmed—they are overwhelmed with the volume of need and with the hopelessness of many individual situations. So much more needs to be done. This bill is a step in the right direction. It identifies the issue, outlines its importance and recognises that planning must look to the future and not just the next budget. Housing is a human right, and we have the resources and capabilities to ensure that we end homelessness by 2030. Our progress on this issue depends on our determination, our willingness to make hard choices and, most of all, our compassion for one another. I commend this to the house.

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