Vinnies warn against looming homelessness funding cuts during crisis
UPDATE: On 24 March 2023, the Federal Government announced it will renew $67.5m in funding for the Equal Renumeration (ERO) supplmentation payments. We strongly welcome this decision and what it will mean for Australia’s homelessness response.
The end of the Federal Government supplement for homelessness services in July could not come at a worse time, as Queensland’s homelessness services continue to face an uphill battle during a state-wide housing shortage.
The Social and Community Services Equal Remuneration (ERO) supplementation payment is currently set to end from July 2023, with no plans for reinstatement.
This will result in a potential loss of $65.5m in funding – the equivalent of 650 homelessness workers Australia-wide, including more than 80 in Queensland.
Vinnies Queensland CEO Kevin Mercer said the pressures felt by their homelessness and housing and support teams over the last two years were among the most severe in the organisation’s 129-year history.
“These upcoming cuts could not come at a worse time,” Mr Mercer said.
“Our homelessness support teams have seen some of their biggest challenges yet, as the number of vulnerable Queenslanders facing homelessness continues to grow by the day.
“Vinnies Queensland provided more than 103,000 nights of accommodation to Queenslanders in need last year,” Mr Mercer said.
“This is thanks to the tremendous efforts of our homelessness support teams, working daily with Queenslanders with complex needs, including domestic violence and severe mental health concerns.
“This is the time to be encouraging and incentivising the resilient workers in our frontlines of homelessness support – not to take away millions in funding.”
Mr Mercer said Vinnies Queensland supported calls from Homelessness Australia, ACOSS, National Shelter and Q Shelter and the Community Housing Industry Association to reinstate the funding.
Mr Mercer said a unified approach was needed to resolve the ongoing housing crisis.
“We need more social homes built, we need greater support for Queenslanders struggling to keep up with rising rents and we need a robust and well-equipped homelessness support sector working side by side with our political leaders to provide a home for those who would otherwise have none,” Mr Mercer said.
“The challenge is great, and the cost will be high, but every dollar we spend to keep Queenslanders and Australians from homelessness is a dollar well-spent.”