Vinnies puts homelessness, mental health on the agenda

A National response to mental health and homelessness will be high on the agenda at "Breaking the Cycle", a Conference organised by the St Vincent de Paul Society, on Thursday 18th and Friday 19th October in Sydney.

The two-day conference will bring together over 200 delegates from across a range of community service agencies to discuss strategies and social outcomes to tackle issues surrounding homelessness and mental health.

This will include a call to government to implement a National homelessness strategy that will see a significant increase in SAAP funding.

Organised by the St Vincent de Paul Society´┐Żs National Mental Health and Homelessness Advisory Committee, the conference will focus on; Developing a better understanding of the nexus between homelessness, mental health and substance abuse Identifying and sharing best practices that already work within the St Vincent de Paul Society Achieving better outcomes for the people assisted by organisations such as the St Vincent de Paul Society.

Presentations from a number of leading thinkers and services providers will be featured over the two days including; Dr John Falzon, CEO, St Vincent de Paul Society National Council Robert Fitzgerald AM, Federal Productivity Commissioner Professor Julian Disney, Director, The Social Justice Project, University of New South Wales

Dr John Falzon, leading social researcher and CEO of St Vincent de Paul Society National Council, said a brave vision was needed and a long term strategy.

"This, rather than tactics and tax-cuts, will help build a fair Australia where no one is left out or pushed out," Dr Falzon said.

Funding for this conference was provided by the St Vincent de Paul Society National Council and the Australian Government Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs under the National Homelessness Strategy.

The St Vincent de Paul Society is one of the largest providers of homeless services in Australia accommodating over 2000 homeless men, women, families and youth, in crisis and emergency accommodation each night.

MEANWHILE the ABC reported that Dr Falzon said hundreds of thousands of Australians are being forced to pay well beyond their means for rental accommodation.

In response to Labor's pledge to release unused Commonwealth land for housing, the St Vincent de Paul Society has called on the major parties to develop wider affordable housing strategies to meet the demand.

Dr Falzon said an alarming amount of renters are struggling.

"At least 345,000 families, and this is a very conservative estimate, are paying more than $74 a week more than they can afford in the private rental market," he said.

"Now we believe that this figure is set to increase radically."

SOURCE Housing demands hurting tenant's pockets: charity (ABC News 17/10/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
St Vincent de Paul Australia
Eureka Street - Dr John Falzon

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18 Oct 2007