Peter McMillan speaks to Katie Woolf about housing and homelessness in the Northern Territory.
- The Northern Territory has 12 times the national rate of homelessness
- There has been a 13% increase in demand for homelessness services across the last two years
- 1/4 of people experiencing homelessness in the NT are under 12 years of age
- Homelessness is caused by a variety of factors including; lack of income
- Homeless comes in many forms: eg. couch surfing, and in the Territory a lot of people are living in overcrowded environments.
- Overcrowding can have an onflow effect. Reduction of 2000 people experiencing homelessness in remote communities, but increased numbers in Darwin and Palmerston.
- Many people come into town for medical treatment (Dialysis is a common example), but there’s not the housing. These people may be experiencing Stage 5 kidney disease. We need to help those people.
What needs to happen:
- Need to continue to build houses.
- NT has a severe affordable housing shortage, and public housing waitlists of up to 8 years.
Support services are also essential.
- Very sadly, family violence is a key driver of homelessness
- Older women are a growing cohort, entering retirement without adequate superannuation.
Regardless of circumstances we need to house people.
- The NT, which has a homeless population of approx. 13,700, receives about $19 million under the agreement — eight times less than the $157 million in funding WA receives despite having a smaller homeless population of about 9000.
- The way that Canberra distribute fund is based on population not need
- Homelessness is expensive, with flow-on costs into the health system, mental health
We need to have fair-dinkum conversation on how to end homelessness, or how to make a significant reduction.
Just never know who is going to be homeless. The people who are homeless aren’t necessarily who you would expect.
Shelterme online directory www.shelterme.org.au
The full interview is now available: Listen here.