With almost 18,000 children under the age of 12 homeless in Australia, new ideas and new funding to tackle homelessness must be on the table for the Federal election, Greens Senator Scott Ludlam said today.
On Youth Homelessness Matters Day Senator Ludlam - the Greens spokesperson for housing - said youth homelessness was "a growing national tragedy that demands extraordinary measures".
"Last year at least 17,845 children under the age of 12 were homeless - a rise of more than 3,000 from the 2006 figure. More than a quarter of all homeless Australians are under the age of 18. 60 per cent of homeless people are under 35. These young people deserve a roof over their heads and hope for the future.
"In November ABS figures showed a 17 per cent increase in the number of homeless people in Australia in five years. The rate of homelessness increased by eight per cent, and the total number by an shocking 17 per cent, between 2006 and 2011. There are now more than 100,000 people homeless in this country, with more than 44,000 of them under the age of 25.
"The 2008 White Paper on homelessness aimed to halve homelessness by 2020, but five years on there are 250,000 people on the waiting list for social housing. The Opposition Leader Tony Abbott is yet to commit to the goal of halving homelessness by 2020 - where does he stand?
"We need to see a commitment to at least doubling funding for homelessness services and accommodation in the new National Affordable Housing Agreement; we need to see policies that encourage the use of vacant properties for low-cost housing, instead of policies that encourage speculation; and we need to see all levels of government engage directly with the homelessness sector."
Senator Ludlam praised the work of Homelessness Australia and other agencies in tirelessly striving to help the nation's homeless and raise awareness.