Addressing the lack of access to affordable housing and high levels of child poverty in the Hunter region will be the focus of a roundtable with local members and community services in Newcastle tomorrow.
Representatives from Samaritans, Ungooroo Aboriginal Corporation, Family Support Newcastle, Hunter Partners in Recovery, St Vincent de Paul NSW, Nova for Women and Children, Lake Macquarie City Council, Compass Housing Service and Hunter Tenancy Advice & Advocacy Service will be talking to local members about their priority areas for action ahead of the upcoming NSW Budget.
The actions are identified in the NSW Council of Social Service 2015 Pre-Budget Submission that was developed in consultation with these and other community service organisations around NSW.
Kelly Hansen CEO of Nova for Women and Children said recent data from the Department of Family and Community Services showed there are over 6500 households on the waiting list for social housing in the Hunter and New England.
“We’re seeing increased demand for affordable housing options but we know there are very few or no affordable housing options for a number of household types in the region. It’s a huge problem.”
“9 of 11 Local Government Areas in the region have no affordable or appropriate rental properties for a single person on Newstart or Youth Allowance. The Gosford, Newcastle, Maitland, and Port Stephens areas have no listings affordable for single parent families.
“Many families and young people are struggling to keep a roof over their heads as well as providing for day to day living expenses,” said Ms Hansen
“We need to start seeing developers and builders set aside a share of any new development for affordable housing and greater investment from government to deliver a significant increase in the social and affordable housing stock in NSW, reduce homelessness, and properly maintain existing social housing stock.”
Annette Tubnor CEO of Family Support Newcastle said the group was also very concerned that there are currently 1 in 7 children in NSW living in households experiencing poverty and in some areas, like Cessnock, it is even higher reaching 17.5%.
“Children and young people who experience poverty are more likely to have health problems, experience housing and food insecurity, and not achieve their full potential at school.
“There are many things we can be doing to improve the life outcomes for children experiencing poverty but one of the most important is ensuring they are connected to community and family to develop and establish a sense of belonging.
“Unfortunately insufficient, patchy investment means that these children and their families are missing the services that are vital to their sense of belonging and connectedness.
“It’s time to address this and ensure that children and their families can actually access those programs that are available. An extra investment of $15million per annum in activities and programs is needed to address the current shortfalls.