ADJOURNMENT & RESPONSE | HOMELESSNESS
Mr MELHEM (Western Metropolitan) — My adjournment matter is directed to the Minister for Housing, Disability and Ageing and Minister for Mental Health, the Honourable Martin Foley. We recently recognised National Homelessness Week. This initiative coordinated by Homelessness Australia is aimed at raising awareness of people experiencing homelessness, the issues they face and the actions needed to find real solutions. I also recently received a letter from the Western Homelessness Network, a body which aims to provide information on homelessness in the west.
The 2016 census showed that there are currently 5712 people experiencing homelessness in Melbourne’s west. This is 5712 too many. We also know that census data typically undercounts the amount of people experiencing homelessness, so this number could be significantly higher. It is also becoming more obvious that the key cause of homelessness is the persistent squeeze on affordable housing in Melbourne, which is being felt more and more in Melbourne’s west. While the focus on homelessness is often in our CBD, we know that the hidden homeless population is our biggest challenge, and it is an ongoing issue in my electorate.
I am proud of this government’s actions towards tackling our housing and homelessness issues. The government has invested $1 billion in housing and homelessness services, in addition to the $2 billion in social housing support provided through the Social Housing Growth Fund, which opened for business earlier this month. Bodies like the Western Homelessness Network are also doing their share. In 2015–16 this organisation supported 16 260 people experiencing or at risk of homelessness in Melbourne’s west, and I want to thank it for that work. The action I seek is for the minister to outline how the above investments will ensure that we address not only rough sleeping in the CBD but also the issue of hidden homelessness in our suburbs, in particular in Melbourne’s west.