Corporate Australia, community sector, government must unite to end homelessness

  • Corporate Australia, community sector, government must unite to end homelessness image

The cost-of-living crisis is disproportionately impacting the most vulnerable in our community, especially those experiencing insecure housing.

Homelessness in Australia is growing and every day there are 116,000 people experiencing homelessness. That’s the equivalent of a city the size of Ballarat.

There are steps that governments can take to ease the housing problem, including building social housing, but there are also some innovative and new ways to address homelessness. But in a time when the community sector is struggling to keep up with demand, when corporations are reporting increased profits, and when governments are hamstrung by budget pressures, there is almost no alternative to innovation.

Innovation has always played a role in transforming how we live and how we come together as a community. Innovation may well be the key to ensuring every Australian has a home. New and creative partnerships between the private and community sectors are beginning to help address the problem of insecure housing and homelessness. And there is plenty of scope for more.

Philanthropy has a long-standing place in our society, but expectations of corporations are changing. Being a good corporate citizen is no longer an optional-extra: it is an intrinsic part of an organisation’s social license to operate.

Environmental, social and governance programs have a vital part to play in addressing the problems in our society that governments can’t solve alone.  When the private sector joins with the not-for-profit sector to address social issues, the results are powerful. Real innovation comes from thinking outside the box.

For example, the Western Australian building industry has donated $1 million to renovate Wyn Carr House to provide a home to women over 55 at risk of homelessness. The renovation of Wyn Carr House, belonging to UnitingWA is the first joint project undertaken by Housing All Australians, a private sector initiative established to work with the non-profit sector to provide affordable, stable and long-term rental housing.

The Housing All Australians model is easily duplicated and scaled, giving corporate Australia a clear path to invest in social housing, while solving a major community problem. It is not just government who can take the initiative in building long-term, stable and affordable homes. Good partnerships between the non-profit sector and the private sector have a big part to play, but we need more partnerships to make a real difference in a housing and rental market that has never been more expensive.

Government funding to build more social housing is part of the answer, but there is a great deal the private sector and non-profit sector can deliver in partnership.

It is time to rethink the way we, as a whole community, support the most vulnerable and end homelessness. We must look at long-term investment by the public, private and community sectors to address the urgent need for homes, and recognise the vital role we all must play.