Fiona Patten Gives a Sh*t About Housing & Homelessness
We can fix homelessness. It might seem intractable, but there is much more we can and must do.
The Andrews Government’s `big build’ is welcome but falls far short of what is required to go close to fixing one of the deepest and most distressing forms of social exclusion.
Victoria needs to build more social and community housing. The government has a leading role in that.
Public policies to end homelessness are central to my re-election platform.
They will both alleviate and prevent suffering as well as save taxpayers’ money overall.
Reason Party believes housing is a human right and that Australia is in a housing affordability and homelessness crisis.
My party supports implementing recommendations of the 2021 Victorian Inquiry into homelessness, which I chaired. These include:
- funding additional crisis, emergency and transitional accommodation, and associated support services including pathways to long-term accommodation, for people at risk of homelessness
- federal government to ensure the availability of an appropriate proportion of social housing and transitional, crisis and emergency accommodation which is accessible and appropriate for people with diverse needs
- work with state and territory governments to review public order offences and other offences that disproportionately affect people experiencing homelessness, particularly rough sleepers, and those in a cycle of homelessness, with a view to minimising enforcement-based responses to homelessness
- work with state and territory governments to implement strategies to address the risk of exiting into homelessness from state institutions, including hospitals, mental health facilities, correctional institutions and out-of-homecare, including developing a nationally consistent approach to discharge planning and a national definition of ‘no exit into homelessness’.
This was the most comprehensive of the many inquiries in which I’ve been involved in my eight years in parliament. It took more than two years, with 450 formal submissions and 18 hearings.
Reason Party supports:
- Tax reform to remove distorting incentives in the housing market and include reforms which support build to rent.
- The introduction of inclusionary zoning into the Building Act
The Victorian Government’s housing build, which will see 9,300 new social housing dwellings constructed, about a 10 per cent increase in Victoria’s social housing stock, was announced towards the end of our inquiry.
Despite the unprecedented size of the program, it will still not ensure that Victoria will meet the national average of social housing as a percentage of total dwellings, at 4.5 per cent.
Youth homelessness is a particular concern.
Victoria is facing an exponential increase in homelessness over the next two decades unless it acts immediately to cut the number of young people currently experiencing the crisis.
Experts estimate Victoria needs to create five thousand homes in five years for young people.
The government’s tender for building properties for young people closed in March with only $50 million being made available – even though tenders for $150 million were received.
Why is the government just sitting on these tenders? It needs to approve them now and get moving. We are in a crisis and there are solutions sitting on the minister’s desk.
The government has the inquiry’s recommendations and has not responded to the report despite being required to within six months.
The government has committed just one per cent of the $5.3 billion of housing investment in its 2020 budget for youth housing. Almost one in five people accessing homelessness services are between 18 and 24.
Addressing youth homelessness is an absolute social and economic priority – not doing so not only denies these people a home but the opportunity of education and employment and leaves them forever vulnerable to being homeless.
Policy Big Picture
DATA BASE: My time in electoral politics since 2014 has been driven by a desire to make the place a bit fairer and better. I have done that through evidence-based policy and first principles including equality of opportunity, accountability, transparency and compassion.
GETTING STUFF DONE: Achievements include assisted dying legislation; improvements in women’s health; better and extended protection for minors in state care; exclusion zones around abortion clinics; harm minimisation reforms in drug law, including a medically supervised injecting room saving countless lives; spent convictions reform; pandemic-specific legislation to force the government to tell us its reasoning behind health measures.
UNFINISHED BUSINESS: The agenda includes further drug law reform to reduce harm; increase mental health care; tax profitable religious charities; prevent publicly funded hospitals and hospices from refusing to provide abortions, family planning and assisted dying; robust action on global warming; a new hospital for Melbourne’s north; formal inclusion of childcare in the education system; religious equality in Parliament, including respect for the non-religious.