House debates

Monday, 6 March 2023

Questions without Notice


2:40 pm

Photo of Matt KeoghMatt Keogh (Burt, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs) Share this | Hansard source

I thank the member for Bendigo for this important question and for her ongoing advocacy for the veterans and families in her electorate. Of course, we understand that rising cost-of-living pressures and higher interest rates are hitting a lot of Australians hard, including our veteran community. The Albanese Labor government has an ambitious reform for housing to make sure that more Australians can have a safe and affordable place to call home. Indeed, nearly 6,000 contemporary veterans can experience homelessness in any one year, so the Department of Veterans' Affairs is working with the community housing sector, including through a partnership with the Community Housing Industry Association and ex-service organisations, to develop veteran-specific resources to assist community housing providers in supporting veterans who are experiencing homelessness. These resources also introduce an industry standard for providing housing services to veterans.

If you are a veteran that is experiencing homelessness, please do get in touch with the Department of Veterans' Affairs on 1800838372 or Open Arms on 1800011046. But, to be frank, we don't actually want to find ourselves in the position where veterans are homeless. Things shouldn't have to get that far. The Australian government strives to ensure that all former serving members of our Australian Defence Force who are experiencing or are at risk of homelessness have access to the services and the support that they and their families require. That's why we're investing $3.6 million to build the Scott Palmer Services Centre, a crisis and transitional housing and support service to help veterans find permanent accommodation and employment in Darwin. It's why our $30 million commitment to build more housing and fund specialist services for veterans and families who are experiencing or are at risk of homelessness is so very important.

And that's just one part of our $10 billion Housing Australia Future Fund. This is the single biggest investment in social and affordable housing by a federal government in more than a decade. And there are some excellent organisations around Australia who are standing by to provide housing relief to our veterans and who want to provide that support. These organisations have proposals—proposals just like the Scott Palmer Services Centre in Darwin or the existing Andrew Russell Veteran Living program in South Australia—but they're hamstrung without the passage of the Housing Australia Future Fund legislation. Indeed, even the member for Jagajaga approached me the other day with another program that could support veterans experiencing homelessness.

People have examples of these around the country, but for some unfathomable reason the opposition wants to stand in the way of more coordinated support for veterans who are experiencing homelessness or are at risk of homelessness. Every day that we have to wait is another day that veterans have to wait to get access to the support they need for homelessness, because of this opposition.


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