Inquiry into homelessness in Australia

On 7 October 2020, the Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs tabled in Parliament its interim report, entitled Shelter in the storm: COVID-19 and homelessness.

The interim report can be found here.

Submissions

The interim report presents the evidence received from the 196 submissions and a number of supplementary submissions, on COVID-19 and homelessness in Australia.

Shelter WA was pleased to work in partnership with the WA Alliance to End Homelessness, our members, and people with lived experience of homelessness to inform our submission to the inquiry. Our submission has been quoted in the interim report, providing a Western Australian perspective on COVID-19 and homelessness.

A copy of our submission can be found here.

Highlights

The Committee highlighted the following areas from our submission:

  • “…despite best efforts … rough sleepers were left on the street during the pandemic and remain homeless today’ in Western Australia.” Shelter WA stated.
  • The interim report also included a statement from St Vincent de Paul Society which was from the Shelter WA Submission. The statement said: “…social distancing rules have impacted the accommodation services, particularly on the way that shared areas such as meals and bathrooms are used. It’s meant that in some locations the number of people that we can safely accommodate has had to be reduced, and our cleaning costs have increased.”
  • Shelter WA also raised concerns for issues about digital technology, whereby the report quoted Shelter WA, “…access to some services during COVID-19 was dependent upon having a phone and an Internet connection at a time when libraries and community centres have closed.”
  • Finally, the report also stated that “…some submissions commented that a severe economic recession will risk pushing renters and home owners into a crisis position, possibly leading to a ‘new wave’ of homelessness at a future time.”

Recommendations

A date for the final report is yet to be announced, but the release of the final report will address all aspects of the inquires terms of reference, including recommendations.

The Committee also acknowledges that the full impact of the public health restrictions and economic disruption due to COVID-19 are not yet fully realised as COVID-19 continues to impact Australia after the release of the interim report.