Local Gippsland service providers today attended a Latrobe Valley think tank with Shadow Minister for Housing Georgie Crozier and The Nationals Melina Bath, Member for Eastern Victoria Region. Together they discussed issues surrounding homelessness and public housing in Gippsland in the lead into Homelessness Week 2018 which is themed ‘Ending Homelessness Together’.
Ms Bath invited Ms Crozier to the Latrobe Valley following the release of a parliamentary committee report into the Victorian Government’s Public Housing Renewal program and her ongoing discussions with local service providers.
Ms Bath said the issue of lengthy wait times in public housing and the strong link to homelessness poses a significant challenge for Gippsland’s most vulnerable and our local service providers.
“Homelessness in Gippsland looks very different to the rest of the state and is significantly influenced by the long wait for public housing, Latrobe-Gippsland’s high unemployment and a real shortage of available low cost rentals.”
The parliamentary committee report into the Victorian Government’s Public Housing Renewal program recently revealed the number of people on the Victorian Housing Register increased by about 1,500 people in the first three months of this year and highlighted there are now over 82,000 people, including 24,622 children seeking public housing. The wait time for public housing can take anywhere between three months to several years.
“The problem of affordable rental housing in Latrobe Valley has dramatically worsened under the Andrews Labor Government. Victoria’s population is growing, Latrobe Valley has the highest unemployment rate in regional Victoria and the cost of living continues to rise. These growing pressures are continuing to impact housing and homelessness.
“Today we held productive discussions about public housing and homelessness and talked about promotion around Homelessness Week 2018. We also covered the provision of important support services that included mental health, drug rehabilitation and domestic violence.
“We know the longer individuals or families experience homelessness the harder it is to end the situation due to worsening health and financial conditions. Therefore it is important we work together as a community to achieve positive outcomes for local individuals and families,” said Ms Bath.