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Affordable Housing

Posted on: August 1st, 2019 by amity No Comments

Affordable housing – The key to a home for everybody

At Platform Youth Services, we spend almost every day finding ways to support young people who are either experiencing homelessness or are at risk of becoming homeless. Very rarely do we get a chance to work on the solution rather than the symptoms.

Homelessness Week 2019 affords us the opportunity to pause for a moment and do just that. It’s a chance for us to join in on the conversation about what needs to happen to put an end to homelessness.

Before we get to what we see as one of the big fixes, however, let’s throw some light on what homelessness looks like in Australia at the moment, and what the facts reveal.

The facts on homelessness in Australia

According to our latest census stats, over 116,000 Australians are currently without a home. And around 200,000 are waiting for public and community housing.

‘Rough sleepers’ (those literally living on the streets) are just the tip of the iceberg. They represent 7% of all homeless people in Australia. This essentially means 93% of homeless people are largely unseen. They’re the ‘hidden homeless’ –sleeping in cars, rooming houses, couch surfing, or staying in other temporary types of accommodation.

When it comes to young people, 2 out of every 5 homeless people are under 25. Imagine over 27,000 young people without a home tonight. And those are just the ones the ABS was able to count.

According to the statisticians, youth homelessness is masked because either the young person doesn’t want to disclose that they are unable to go home, or the person filling in the form for the household assumes their couch surfing visitor is just that – a visitor who will be returning home soon.

Homelessness is on the rise. Youth homelessness has risen 26% in 10 years. In NSW, homelessness grew by a staggering 27% since the 2011 census.
The most important take-away in all of the facts and figures gathered, however, is that homelessness is not the result of personal failings. We often hear the term “street kids” and “runaways” but this isn’t the reality for most young people.

The top reasons young people need homelessness help:

1) Housing crisis
2) Domestic and family violence
3) Inadequate/inappropriate dwelling conditions
4) Relationship/family breakdown, and
5) Financial difficulties

What the facts tell us about our housing system

The facts and figures are both damning and frightening. When ‘housing crisis’ is listed as the number one factor for youth homelessness, it’s a clear indication that our housing system in Australia is broken.

It’s little wonder the theme chosen for this year’s Homelessness Week is ‘Housing ends homelessness’.

The big fix for homelessness? Secure, affordable Housing

While we know there’s rarely a silver bullet for any complex problem, and homelessness is indeed complex, there is increasing evidence that the provision of affordable housing is one of the most effective and enduring ways to beat homelessness. Finland, for example, has all but solved its homelessness crisis by providing increased affordable housing.

But let’s break it down further. What do we mean by secure, affordable housing? We mean appropriate housing that people can afford to rent, long term; housing where the rent can be met if you’re earning a minimum wage and/or relying on government services, such as Youth Allowance, Newstart, ABSTUDY or a pension. Typically, that means rent that’s at least 20% below the market rate.

Why housing works

When people are experiencing homelessness, they miss out on so many fundamental things that society typically takes for granted; privacy, security, a good night’s sleep, a home-cooked meal, electricity, running water, family, connections, relationships, and self-esteem. Now, imagine applying for or holding down a job with none of the above in place.

A home gives people the fundamentals needed for lifting themselves out of their situation. A long term, secure and safe home enables everybody to get on with life – to get on with looking for work, to study or complete an apprenticeship. Affordable housing is a safety net for when the cost of living keeps rising, but your income is stretched to the limit.

What it’s going to take to make it happen

Groundswell support. Political will. Bipartisanship. National action. All of the above! Because Australia is desperately short of affordable housing.
What you can do today to help make homelessness history is contact your local, state and federal members and start advocating for more social housing to be made available. Some key points you might like to raise in your letter or email:

  • We need enough housing to meet Australia’s needs
  • We need housing that is affordable for renters and home-buyers on low to moderate incomes
  • We need a national housing market that is efficient
  • We need a diverse housing profile that suits people at different stages of life.


Together, we can do this!

The Truth Shall Set Us Free

Posted on: June 7th, 2019 by amity No Comments


Truth telling about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples for a better, shared future.

As many of you know, this week is NAIDOC week, and the theme this year is “Voice. Treaty. Truth.” In line with this, we’re going to be doing our own truth-telling here, to contribute to that happening all over the nation. Some truths will be familiar, some hard to hear. Others may be hard to believe, but all are worth knowing and remembering because they hold the key to a better future – for all Australians.


8 hard truths we need to hear about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children

  • 18,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are today in the out-of-home care service system within Australia.
  • 22 years after the Bringing Them Home report was released, Australia has not managed to curb the rate of removal of children from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities.
  • According to The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children continue to be 10 times more likely than non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children to be removed and placed in out-of-home care services.
  • Between the ages of 10 and 14 years, they are also 8.4 times more likely to complete suicide, according to Dr Tracey Westerman, Managing Director of Indigenous Psychological Services.
  • From January to June this year alone, Dr Westerman has stated, 56 children, aged 14 and under have completed suicide. 56 children. In less than six months.
  • Incarceration rates also remain at an all-time high. The ABS reported in a census conducted on the 30th June 2018, that of the 45,170 people incarcerated in Australia on that night almost 30% were Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.
  • In the Northern Territory, the same census found that, of the children and young people detained in Juvenile Detention Centres across the Northern Territory, 100% were Aboriginal.


These statistics are today’s truth. Compile these with those of our shared Australian past, and you begin to understand more clearly why the road to reconciliation is a difficult one.

The journey is not without hope, however, because while these sad truths threaten to overwhelm us, we have others that we draw strength from and make use of.


3 equally important truths about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth in crisis

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are born into a culture that is a gift to our nation.
  • For over 60 millennia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples thrived in this country.
  • When Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are empowered to be the architects of their own lives, they still thrive.


Increasingly around the country, these truths are seeing the light of day. More and more we, and other non-profit organisations like ours, are putting the pieces of a shattered puzzle together – recognising that when First Nation Peoples’ voices are welcomed to the table and genuinely listened to, their know-how, skills and innovations are of great benefit to us all.


How you can help

If you’ve read this far, it’s fair to say you’re interested in being an ally to young First Nation Peoples. Here’s what you can do:

  • Get used to listening and supporting, rather than speaking for, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
  • Make room at the table for new ideas. Don’t be fooled into believing all that rich ancestral knowledge has been lost – or that it’s of no use against today’s problems.
  • Show support for Indigenous organisations and organisations who support Indigenous people. Follow them on social media, and you’ll soon start to see how effective and sustainable community-led programs and partnerships are in combating poverty, homelessness, unemployment, violence and racism.
  • Read the Uluru Statement from the Heart. Put your name on the Supporters’ List and tell people you have.
  • Get to know the real history of Australia. It’s a lot more layered than what most of us learned in school.
  • Once you know more, start conversations with family and friends. If you hear negative stereotypical views being express, champion the strength and ingenuity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
  • Share the voices of our First Peoples, the trials and the triumphs, and reward mainstream media when they report on positive news. This all promotes the strength of Indigenous culture, which should be a source of pride for all Australians.


NAIDOC week provides plenty of opportunities – for listening, witnessing and reflecting. We’d love to know; is there anything you’ll be taking from the list here?


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