POLITICS

Malcolm Turnbull Urged To Help Australia's Homeless

There are a lot of them. One in 200 Australians in fact.

06/12/2016 2:57 PM AEDT | Updated 08/12/2016 5:42 PM AEDT

CANBERRA -- On any given night more than 100,000 Australians are homeless.

That's one in 200 Australians out on the street. Or in boarding houses or supported accommodation. And more than a quarter (27 percent) of Australia's homeless are children and more and more they are seeking help from frontline services.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) recently found an 11 percent jump over 2 years for homeless youth (under 15) needing help, compared to a 5 percent national average increase.

While demand is up for homelessness services, uncertainty surrounds the programs which receive $115 million in federal funding every year under the banner of the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness (NPAH).

It's a Commonwealth and State/Territory governments funding agreement, and the states and territories are expected to match the feds, but the Turnbull Government has not committed to extending its funding beyond this financial year.

Leaders and CEOs of more than 200 welfare organisations have signed an open letter, released Tuesday, urging Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to intervene urgently to reconfirm the NPAH funding and avert a 'human, economic and policy disaster'.

Pat Scala/Fairfax Media
Homeless people are seen using the Meals at the Bridge Service in Melbourne

The letter -- which can be read here -- is signed by the chief executives of ACOSS, the Red Cross and the Salvation Army as well as by the people that run various refuges and family services.

"The consequences for our community if the Federal Government cuts NPAH funding will set Australia back a decade in terms of efforts to reduce homelessness and keep women and children safe from harm," said Homelessness Australia Chairperson Jenny Smith in a statement.

"We would see more women and children unable to leave violent situations, more young people on the streets instead of in school and more people living out their lives without any real hope of having a safe roof over their head again".

It isn't just a pre-Christmas request, it is a plea precisely timed just before the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting of the Prime Minister, Premiers and Chief Ministers on Friday, where the matter is expected to be raised.

The Huffington Post Australia attempted to contact the Minister for Social Services Christian Porter and received this response:

"The Office of the Minister for Social Services is aware of the letter to the Prime Minister relating to National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness (NPAH) funding," a spokeswoman said in a statement.

"A process is currently underway to consider NPAH funding beyond 2017."

While big announcements are rare at COAG meetings, the welfare organisations are holding out for a stunning reveal on Friday.

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