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Katie Woolf

Homelessness funding and the homeless experience in the NT (Mix 104.9 Darwin)

Peter McMillan speaks to Katie Woolf about housing and homelessness in the Northern Territory.

Key points:

  • 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.

Funding disparity

  • 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.

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The full interview is now available: Listen here.

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