Home is more than a roof over your head

By Meg Webb

Independent Member for Nelson


HOMELESSNESS can touch the lives of almost anyone.

The unexpected combination of only a few life events – the loss of a job, a serious health crisis, family breakdown or family violence – can lead to someone facing homelessness.

We also know that there are structural drivers of homelessness too, which put people at much higher risk.

This includes things like the severe lack of affordable housing in Tasmania, low incomes and insecure work, and insufficient support for those leaving state care or custody.

As we recognised Homelessness Week from 5 to 12 August, the global COVID-19 pandemic added even more urgency to its theme, everybody needs a home.

Home is more than just a roof over your head.

It is a sense of security, belonging, a foundation to engage with employment or education, a place to socialise and connect with others, a place for families to be together and, importantly, it is a place in which you can safely manage your health, self-isolate if necessary and ensure the community is not put at risk.

Now, more than ever, homelessness isn’t an issue just for the person or family affected, it’s an issue we must solve together to achieve good outcomes in health, employment, safety and a strong community.

It’s in all our interests to end homelessness in Tasmania – not just chip away at the edges, but actually plan to end it.

The 2016 census showed 1,622 Tasmanians were experiencing homelessness.

The majority of these were under the age of 44 years, with four in 10 under the age of 25 years.

Our specialist homelessness services assist thousands of Tasmanians each year, with more than a third of those assisted being parents with children.

Sadly, even though these services do a wonderful job, there is not enough capacity to meet the need in our community.

Twenty-eight people a day are turned away from short term and emergency accommodation in Tasmania, and that number is increasing.

With a lack of affordable housing in the community, many people get stuck in a cycle of repeated homelessness.

There are more than 3,500 people on the waiting list for public housing in Tasmania, with priority applicants facing a 59 week wait to be housed.

This is an issue that can only be solved by putting politics aside and planning a collective, long-term solution.

All sides of politics, at both a state and federal level, need to make this a priority.

During Homelessness Week, housing advocates called on all Federal members of Parliament to sign the Social Housing Pledge.

This is a pledge to build 30,000 new social housing properties nationally, 75 per cent of those in the next three years, to create jobs and help end homelessness.

It also calls for investment in the renovation of existing social housing properties to high environmental standards to reduce the cost of living for tenants.

This is the bold, long-term planning and investment we need to build a strong, healthy community that leaves no one behind.

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About the Author: Hobart Observer

The Hobart Observer is your monthly community newspaper, reaching over 24,000 homes and businesses in and around the City of Hobart. It is the product of Nicolas Turner, Justine Brazil, Ben Hope, Simon Andrews, Tobias Hinds and guest contributors, with support from advertisers.

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