“Every day our frontline community services across the country despair at the number of people living in Australia without the fundamental human need of housing,” UnitingCare Australia Acting National Director, Martin J Cowling said.
“Our services have told us that the issue is getting worse, not better. In fact, we believe it now represents a national crisis.
“As such, we believe the issue requires strong national leadership and a national response strategy.
“Our service providers yesterday committed to developing a UnitingCare Australia response strategy as we seek to work constructively and collaboratively with government to help shape the way forward.
“We recognise that governments are already contributing large amounts of funding and resources, but believe it’s time to seriously examine new directions.”
Mr Cowling said the forum also provided an opportunity for services to share the many innovative solutions they are implementing to address the pressing needs of the homeless in their communities.
“Stable and safe housing underpins functional families and communities.
“Australia has the resources to ensure that everyone experiences belonging in a safe and supportive community, with appropriate housing.
“Homelessness impacts on the health and wellbeing of older people, on the capacity of children, youth, Indigenous people and those from a culturally diverse background, to achieve their potential to contribute to society and the economy, and on the ability of Australians with disability or a mental health issue to lead a dignified life.
“To successfully address the issue it will be vital for different levels of government, and private and not-for-profit organisations like ourselves, to work together,” Martin Cowling said.
UnitingCare Australia operates at 1,600 sites across the country.