Opinion

Law or funding the solution to homelessness?

By James Bennett

The idea to introduce a law that would prevent homelessness is puzzling.

As it’s such a trivial topic any proposal that can reduce the impact or number of homeless people is certainly welcomed. But just because it seems to be providing positive outcomes in Wales, doesn’t mean it could work in Australia, let alone Shepparton.

Governments spend millions implementing new laws and campaigns, but outcomes are still the same, sometimes worse. An example of this is the road toll. There are some important facts around these potential laws the Shepparton region would love to see.

When implementing the law using three different stages in Wales, the duty to prevent homelessness was successful for 68 per cent of clients. It was also successful for 41 per cent of clients when local councils tried to help secure housing and 80 per cent successful when the local council has a duty to secure the housing if in priority need.

Council to Homeless Persons chief executive Jenny Smith said: ‘‘Australia could reduce homelessness if we adopted the Welsh model of requiring governments to deliver prevention support.’’

‘‘Currently in Australia, there is only ad hoc funding for prevention services, with most funding directed to supporting people after they have lost their home.’’

As local support services previously told the News what the biggest issue is — affordable housing — and it’s not as if this can’t be addressed. If we know what can prevent homelessness than that’s where resources should be distributed. It’s important to note, Wales has a two-tiered level of government compared to Australia, which has three.

The Welsh and rest of the United Kingdom has a greater emphasis relying on local councils for housing. Federal Member for Nicholls Damian Drum pointed out public housing is a state issue.

The simple matter is, to help reduce help homelessness in Shepparton it would require more funding for housing and crisis accommodation. Unfortunately, as we’ve seen from the current Victorian Government, that isn’t always the case.

For that reason it would be hard to see all three levels of government coming together on a topic such as housing and homelessness particularly around funding.