NSW pledges to halve homelessness by 2025

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Chair of the Institute of Global Homelessness, Dame Louise Casey shake hands after signing the agreement to halve rough sleeping in NSW by 2025. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

The NSW Government and key service providers, including the St Vincent de Paul Society, have signed a global agreement to halve homelessness in Sydney and the whole of NSW by 2025.

NSW is the first state in the world to sign the agreement to aggressively tackle rough sleeping.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian came together this morning with service providers and Dame Louise Casey, Chair of the Institute of Global Homelessness, at NSW Parliament House to sign the agreement.

Ms Berejiklian also announced that the NSW Government has pledged $1 billion towards housing and homelessness services.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian speaks to the media about the Government’s aim to tackle homelessness. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

“Today is an historic day for NSW, as the first state in the world to sign up to this. I believe Sydney is the tenth city in the world to sign up,” the Premier said.

“We also do this because we know we need joint partners in this, we cannot do it alone.

“The NSW Government is investing in excess of $1 billion over the next four years in housing and housing strategies but we know it’s not just about the money, it’s how you use the money. That’s why it’s important for us to draw on the expertise of the stakeholders, of global players.”

The agreement was signed by the NSW Government, City of Sydney, Institute of Global Homelessness, St Vincent de Paul Society, St Vincent’s Health, Mission Australia, the Salvation Army, Wesley Mission, Neami National and Yfoundations.

Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP welcomed the Government’s pledge.

“I applaud the target agreed to by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian to halve homelessness across the state by 2025,” Archbishop Fisher said.

“This new target has come about through the hard work of a number of organisations, including several Catholic social and health services agencies after I convened a Taskforce in 2017 to establish a plan to end rough sleeping in Sydney.

“As God’s children, we are all entitled to live in dignity and homelessness is very much an attack on the dignity of the human person. This goal is a critical first step towards ending this sad social problem, currently impacting about 300 homeless people across the city.”

Dame Louise Casey said it was “a huge team effort” that had brought all the key signatories together. She said the agreement had “ambitious but deliverable targets” and that the state-wide approach would address rough sleeping not just in the city but also in rural and regional areas.

Dame Louise Casey praised the NSW Government for taking on such an ambitious agreement. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

“This collaboration is so incredibly powerful between the city and the state government, and between the organisations that very kindly also signed up,” Dame Casey said.

“I think it’s really important to note that NSW is the first state to take this approach across the world in terms of our modest organisation called the Institute of Global Homelessness.

“It’s a very powerful example of us trying to work out across the globe what compassion looks like and compassion in the 21st century is when we do not have human beings forced to sleep out on the streets.”

Minister for Social Housing, Pru Goward, said over the past 18 months the NSW Government had housed 300 people sleeping rough in Sydney.

“Homelessness is not a simple issue to solve – you cannot simply put a person who has been sleeping on the streets for years into a home and expect it to work – you need to give them the right wraparound support,” Ms Goward said.

“Complex mental health and substance abuse issues are often the underlying causes of homelessness which is why we are focusing on early intervention.”

CEO of the St Vincent de Paul Society NSW, Jack de Groot, said the agreement signalled “an incredibly exciting time”.

CEO of St Vincent de Paul Society NSW, Jack de Groot and Minister for Social Housing, Pru Goward. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

“The NSW Government has set a target to reduce street homelessness, rough sleeping, by 50 per cent by 2025. By Christmas of next year we will have reduced it by 25 per cent,” Mr de Groot said.

“So government setting targets on social goals, development goals, such as housing and homelessness, is really important. The fact the Government wants to do that on a collaborative basis, with both the Global Institute and the community sector here in NSW is exciting.

“Vinnies sees the reality, whether it be at Nowra, Ballarat, Dubbo, throughout the state, that the issue of homelessness is real in all our communities.

“That the Government is committing to a comprehensive all-of-state approach, with both local government and state government and the community sector is a fantastic target and commitment.”