Churches Housing Inc response to the Federal Budget 2021-22.
Churches Housing recognises that the Federal Government has made significant and worthy commitments across a range of sectors, but an opportunity for national leadership was missed in the Federal Budget last evening.
Of note is the contribution to Aged Care which supports an aging population to remain in their home for required care, but an issue of concern is for the elderly that do not have a home or are suffering housing insecurity in the current compromised rental market.
There is considerable new support for the services needed in our communities related to mental health and suicide, the provision of training and employment support to drive jobs and skills, childcare, and new initiatives for first home owners and single parents, and these matters are important to building a strong economy and supporting our citizens.
But right in the middle of it, is a disclaimer of the need to add social and affordable housing to the infrastructure projects, that would be a significant contributor to the mental health, and the hope for resilient citizens that can transform futures alongside the capability and skill building.
While the matter of housing is typically managed at the State level, the rising housing disaster post pandemic (job losses, housing losses and increased domestic violence), post fires, post floods and out-of-control markets have blitzed the basic housing needs and dreams of many Australians.
Australia must add this basic human right as a central tenant to the way we build our future. We cannot wait for vulnerable aging women, families escaping domestic violence, and those in crisis post pandemic, floods and fires to escalate into homelessness.
The flow-on impact to philanthropic organisations trying to help the safety, security, education and health of Australian children, women and families, creates massive challenges for the ongoing provision of support across Church and Community organisations who work everyday to make the lives of vulnerable Australians more secure.
With the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, the right to adequate housing joined the body of international, universally applicable, and universally accepted human rights law. Accordingly, adequate housing is universally viewed as one of the most basic human needs. The significance of a secure place to live for human dignity, physical and mental health, and overall quality of life is at the heart of healthy and resilient communities.
We are not a socialist country but we must work to narrow the gap. We want to remain the lucky country, and we could lead the way in innovative approaches to address the housing issues for the increasing number of disadvantaged citizens – not set them off to one side, as this will see a rapidly increasing downward spiral in the wellbeing of too many Australians.
Churches Housing Inc. is the peak body representing the many wonderful faith-based organisations – from Anglicare through to Wesley Mission – church denominations, philanthropists and individuals who work to provide housing for so many in our communities.
Now more than ever is the time for critical partnerships between government both Federal and State to offer affordable housing – a National Strategy and plan would be a great start!
Rose Thomson CEO