Dear Prime Minister,
We write to you regarding the urgent situation concerning homeless people sleeping rough and COVID-19.
Australia has led the world in its crisis response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This included an extraordinary achievement in temporarily sheltering an estimated more than 7,000 homeless people who were either sleeping rough or at risk of sleeping rough in the first eight weeks of the pandemic alone.
This makes up a significant proportion on of the total number of homeless people currently sleeping rough in Australia which, according to the last census, was approximately 8,200 people.
This phenomenal eﬀort represents one of the most signiﬁcant homelessness responses Australia has ever seen, but it is only a ﬁrst step. While temporarily sheltering people sleeping rough has been an important pandemic 'crisis response', it will not be an eﬀective 'recovery response’.
An eﬀective recovery response needs to take into account that if we want people to follow public health directives relating to social distancing, personal hygiene and staying home if unwell, then we must recognise that none of this can be achieved without a home.
Tipping people back onto the streets simply cannot be an option. Without urgent action it will be the only option for too many people.
We call on your government to lead the development of a COVID-19 National Response Plan for Homeless People Sleeping Rough, which must include investments to:
A number of submissions with additional information are already on the table for your consideration including:
If we don’t urgently address the housing needs of people previously or currently sleeping rough, we risk compromising Australia’s recovery from this pandemic.
Commonwealth involvement in housing and homelessness has been a feature of Australian life since at least 1949 and the need for Commonwealth leadership has never been greater than right now. The Australian Alliance to End Homelessness and signatories below wish to work collaboratively with your government and state and territory governments to address this issue, given the positive funding and support which has been directed to people rough sleeping so far during the crisis.
We believe that there has never been a be er me to seek to end rough sleeping homelessness in Australia than right now and we the undersigned encourage your Government to urgently lead the development of a COVID-19 National Rough Sleeping Homelessness Pandemic Response Plan.
We would be pleased to discuss this with you or your representative.
CEO, Australian Alliance to End Homelessness