More than 300 people in Coffs Harbour are without a home on any given night, according to Mission Australia.
More than 300 people in Coffs Harbour are without a home on any given night, according to Mission Australia. Contributed

Regional battlers hardest hit by housing stress

LITTLE more than a month out from the Federal Election, some of Australia's leading charities are calling on politicians to make poverty and household budgets a key issue.  

Mission Australia says on any given night, more than 100,000 Australians - including 331 people in Coffs Harbour - are without a home.  

In a joint letter to party leaders, Mission Australia, Anglicare, Salvation Army, St Vincent de Paul, UnitingCare Australia and Wesley Mission have this week demanded a commitment to halving homelessness by 2025.  

At the same time, the Salvation Army has released the findings of its National Economic and Social Impact Survey of more than 1600 of its clients, and says people in regional and rural areas are overrepresented in the figures.  

The survey found 68% of Salvation Army clients are suffering extreme housing stress, with family violence a leading cause of housing transiency.  

"We cannot keep putting a band-aid on disadvantage," Salvation Army territorial communications and fundraising secretary, Major Bruce Harmer said.  

"Too many regional Australians are hurting badly - it's alarming.  

"We need serious funding to develop innovative solutions to the complex issues of entrenched poverty."  

The 68% of clients experiencing housing stress spend two-thirds of their disposable income on housing, while one in five of those surveyed are either homeless or in temporary accommodation.  

The Cowper electorate has a median family income of $969 per week, compared to Bill Shorten's Maribyrnong electorate at $1373 and Malcolm Turnbull's Wentworth electorate at $2709.  

With the approaching election shaping up to be a case of 'Bill's Battlers' versus 'Malcolm's Millionaires', Federal Government leadership is needed to reverse the widening gap between rich and poor.  

 

Findings from the Salvation Army's National Economic and Social Impact Survey

  • Respondents affected by family violence were those most affected by extreme housing stress.  
  • Family violence is the reason why 37% of women moved in the past 12 months.  
  • 64% of respondents who moved due to family violence said their children had to change schools when their family moved.  
  • 40% of people who were surveyed had moved house on average almost three (2.7) times in 12 months.  
  • Nearly one in five (17%) are either homeless or living in temporary accommodation. One in three of those has previously rented privately. 
  • 37% of people responding who are homeless had experienced persistent homelessness for two years. 
  • 86% of clients and 58% of households with children report severe deprivation and go without five or more basic items.  
  • Numerous clients live off just $16.96 a day after accommodation is paid for.  
  • Some clients on Newstart survive off just $15.29 a day after accommodation is paid for.  
  • Six out of 10 respondents cannot afford an internet connection for their child.