People’s Commission into Homelessness

People's Commission into Homelessness

Have you heard of Everybody’s Home? It’s a national campaign that’s aimed at fixing the housing crisis in Australia. It’s organised on behalf of homelessness and welfare organisations, including: National Shelter, Mission Australia, Shelter NSW, Tenants Union of NSW and Homelessness Australia, among numerous others.

Why is there a housing crisis in the first place?

“Fundamentally, the only way to make housing more affordable is to build more of it where people want to live. And arguably, we haven’t been doing enough of that. That’s part of why housing is expensive in some parts of Australia,”

Proptrack, Real Estate Appraiser in Sydney

A timeline of how the housing crisis occurred in Australia:

(According to ‘Forbes Advisor‘)

  • High levels of home ownership after World War II, due to low land prices.
  • World War II price controls on land and rents cease.
  • Land close to Australia’s city centres becomes more scarce.
  • Price rises average three to four per cent over the 1950 – 1980’s.
  • Deregulation of the financial sector during the 1980’s results in increased competition, low inflation, low interest rates.
  • Demand increases for property in the 1980’s and 1990’s.
  • Introduction of tax concessions on property investment in the 1980’s in the form of negative gearing, capital gains tax exemptions and interest deductibility results in increased demand for home lending.
  • Migration increases the Australian population to 26 million between 2000 – 2024.
  • Shortage of land suitable for residential housing becomes apparent.
  • Federal governments respond to first home buyers being ‘locked out of the property market’ by offering initiatives like the First Home Buyer Scheme. Some experts believe these have made housing more expensive, as they boost demand further.

National Conversation about the Housing Crisis

The 500 organisational supporters of Everybody’s Home are seeking to hold a People’s Commission into Homelessness, where individuals and organisations across Australia can contribute to a national conversation about the housing crisis, its impacts and what can be done to fix it. They are encouraging all people to share their story about how the housing crisis is affecting them and their community.

It will refer to:

  1. The experiences of people struggling to access affordable and suitable housing.
  2. The flow-on impacts of the housing crisis.
  3. The impacts of current policy settings on housing affordability and access to housing.
  4. Actions that can be taken by governments to improve affordability and access to housing

What happens next?

The Everybody’s Home Commissioners will review submissions between now and May 2024 and draft a report summarising the key findings.

The Commissioners are:

  • Doug Cameron, a former trade unionist and Senator for New South Wales with the Australian Labor Party.
  • Professor Nicole Curran – Professor of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Sydney, where she directs the University’s Henry Halloran Research Trust. 

The Commission will then culminate in a series of in-person hearings, where members of the community will be invited to share their story directly with Commissioners and the media. 

Dr Sophie Scamps’ People’s Jury on Housing

With the same theme in mind, in June 2024, Dr. Sophie Scamps, Independent Federal Member for Mackellar will be hosting a People’s Jury on Housing to find solutions to the housing crisis that will work for Mackellar on Sydney’s Northern Beaches.

The People’s Jury is a group of citizens invited to form a jury, who will spend a day deliberating on the housing crisis from many perspectives, with the aim being to come up with three policy priorities that Dr. Sophie Scamps can advocate for in Canberra. Dr. Sophie Scamps is working in partnership with The newDemocracy Foundation, a not for profit research organisation that promotes community participation in politics.

The panel presentation by the People’s Jury on Housing will be presented online on Saturday June 15.

How to fix the housing crisis?

According to the organisers of the Everybody’s Home campaign, there are simple things that the Federal Government can do to make our housing system work for everybody:

  • Wind back the tax concessions for investors.
  • Improve the affordability and availability of rental properties by supporting the creation of 500,000 properties for people on low and middle incomes.
  • Create long term security for renters.
  • Ease rental stress by increasing rent assistance.
  • Commit to ending homelessness by providing preventative and rapid homelessness support when people in need lose their homes.

The Everybody’s Home campaign advocates for social and affordable housing, as both forms help to address the housing crisis and create a more equitable and inclusive society.

The federal government’s Housing Accord (signed between federal and state governments last year), aims to construct one million new homes over five years from 2024, by using private capital, including superannuation funds.

It is aiming to build 30,000 new social and affordable rental homes over five years by establishing a $10 billion Housing Australia Future Fund.

Youth Homelessness Matters Day

Youth Homelessness Matters Day 2024

Across Australia in 2022-23, almost 39,000 young people (15-24 years of age) presented alone to a specialist homelessness service. Of these young people, the majority were in need of short or long term accommodation.

Half of the young people who tried to get a bed in a crisis refuge in 2022-23 were turned away because services couldn’t accommodate them.

Around a third of young people that presented to specialist homelessness services had experienced domestic and family violence. And, around a third of young people presenting along to specialist homelessness services identified as Indigenous to Australia.

It is becoming clear, according to Yfoundations, the broader rental, housing and cost of living crisis is putting more pressure on homeless service providers and making it harder for children and young people to find a home.

Yfoundations is the peak body for youth homelessness in NSW. For over 40 years, yfoundations has represented and advocated for children and young people at risk of and experiencing homelessness, and the services that support them. 

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Specialist Homelessness Services (SHS) data 202-23 advises that the capacity of homelessness services has fallen by almost 17,000 clients a year and services face a $73 million funding shortfall from June 2024 (Yfoundations media release, December 2023.)

In 2022-23, three in 10 clients at specialist homelessness services (SHS) were under the age of 18. Almost 40,000 of SHS clients in 2022-23 were children and young people (15-24) presenting on their own. Similar to previous years, females and First Nations people were overrepresented in these figures.


Wednesday April 17, 2024 is Youth Homelessness Matters Day. It’s a national day that aims to raise awareness and public discussion about child and youth homelessness. It’s been held every year since 1990 and has grown into a national commemoration of young people’s resilience. It’s also a day for yfoundations and other services like The Burdekin Association to seek innovative solutions to support the needs of children and young people at risk of or currently experiencing homelessness. It’s a day that’s showcased online and in communities around Australia.

“Every day in 2022/23, 295 people who needed a crisis bed or help were turned away because services were at capacity. We believe, these numbers will be much higher in reality, because we know that children and young people will couch surf, remain in violent homes, or sleep rough because they have no idea that services exist. Even if they did, the report demonstrates they are unlikely to get a bed tonight because services are full.”

Trish Connolly, yfoundations CEO

Yfoundations is hoping that these statistics will be taken into consideration when the federal government develops the National Housing and Homelessness Plan and Agreement this year.

Yfoundations’ view is that the solution lies in increasing the funding for crisis homelessness services, so that children and young people are not living in unsafe and violent situations, and that the federal government commits to standalone homelessness and housing plans to end child and youth homelessness. Their submission aims to demonstrate how failures of the child protection system and other service systems have had significant impacts on the youth homelessness service system.

The plan will need to respond to the diversity and complexity of young people at risk of or experiencing homelessness to support their transition into a future of self reliance and wellbeing. It should be part of a national approach in responding to housing supply shortages.

To find out more about Youth Homelessness Matters Day, click here.

What a difference volunteers make!

Qualtrics volunteers assist to transform a property for a young person.

A huge thank you to the amazing team of volunteers at Qualtrics for helping us transform a single storey, two-bedroom property for a 19-year-old single mother with two children under the age of two.

Six employees from Qualtrics, which helps organisations improve their customer and employee experience, put up their hands to transform the property as part of their annual volunteering inititiative, XM Day.

Armed with gardening tools and a positive attitude, they participated in a volunteering day, where they assisted in:

  • Painting the living room
  • Moving a new couch into the newly painted living room
  • Pruning and tidying up the garden
  • Patching up a couple of dents in the walls
  • Revamping the kitchen
  • Tidying up the garage and car port
  • Taking rubbish to Kimbriki Resource Recovery Centre
  • Scrubbing the bathroom to remove mould
  • Removing plastic bottles and recycling them

The generous team also donated two car seats for the children, children’s clothes, toys, new towels, new cushions and a rug, and stationery to help the young mother with their TAFE studies.

Doctor Cecila Herbert from Qualtrics also went the extra mile and donated plants from her own garden and planted them in the property’s garden.

Thank you Qualtrics, your team of volunteers have truly made a difference in this young mother’s life and we couldn’t be more grateful! This is why we do what we do!

And finally, a big shout out of thanks to Bunnings Warringah Mall for donating paint, that provided the living room with a new lease on life.

If your organisation or business would like to volunteer with The Burdekin Association, check out our volunteering opportunities here. We’d love to hear from you.

Financial distress in Australian households

An empty wallet

Do you feel your finances are stretched more than ever? You’re not alone.

Many of us are noticing that we’re trying to stretch our finances further than ever before. With living costs on the climb, it’s an everyday reality that’s biting into our budgets. From groceries to fuel – we’re feeling the impact. 

Cost of living, inflation pressures and rising rental stress are pushing more people into homelessness at a time when there’s very limited availability of affordable homes to rent,” says Sharon Mallister, CEO of Mission Australia.

Sharon Callister, CEO of Mission Australia.

Two in five households that receive CRA experience rental distress

The Productivity Commission’s latest Report on Government Services (released January 2024) shows that 42.9 per cent, or two in five households are experiencing rental stress despite receiving Commonwealth Rental Assistance (CRA). 

People on low incomes are particularly susceptible to housing instability, due to higher private housing prices. 

In 2019 – 2020, 52.5 per cent of lower income households were experiencing rental stress (paying more than 30 per cent of gross household income or housing costs.) 

Alongside rental distress, relationship breakdown (including domestic and family violence), increased the risk of homelessness and the need for social housing. Interpersonal and relationship issues was the reason 49 per cent of people sought specialist homelessness services. Of these, 73.3 per cent identified as domestic and family violence.

Mental health, medical issues or problematic substance abuse accounted for why 24.1 per cent of people accessed specialist homelessness services. Disability, alcohol and drug misuse and unemployment were also contributing factors.

“Housing has become a burning issue for Australians both for those who could not afford a home and for those worrying about their children,” Former NSW Premier Dominic Perrotet said while giving a talk to the Property Council of NSW in mid February 2024.

Unfortunately, housing instability and homelessness can increase vulnerability to worse economic circumstances, through “poorer outcomes in education, employment and health and increased risk of involvement with the justice system,” the Productivity Report states.

Students dropping out of high school

The Productivity Commission’s Report on education services (issued January 2024) has found that 79 per cent of students in government high schools completed Year 12, compared to 83.3 per cent five years earlier. For non-government schools, the proportion who finish was a healthier 87.2 per cent. This is the lowest retention rate in high schools over the last 10 years.

The HSC attainment rates increased as socio-economic status increased. And, across remote areas in Australia, the attainment rates were substantially lower in very remote areas compared to other areas. 

The Productivity Commission report also suggested that enrolments at universities were continuing to trend downwards too. According to Lenore Taylor’s report in ‘The Guardian’, nationally in 2023, 65.7 per cent of people between 20 and 64 had a qualification at certificate III level or above, down from 66.2 per cent in 2022.

What can be done?

Address the inequality for the young people in our care.

Disadvantaged students have been found on average to be two to three years behind in reading and maths compared to their peers, and the likelihood is that they will earn less income and could become unemployed in the future.

The Burdekin Association’s targeted educational support assists children and young people in our Out of Home Care program who are unable to engage in their local school, but excel when provided with customised support, improving their access to opportunities such as employment, healthcare, housing, family and community.

Our Housing, Support and Community Intervention services provide support to children and young people between the age of 9 and 24.

Our Model of Care is innovative and based on extensive research and an understanding that the needs of the young people we assist are far greater than just providing safe accommodation.

Our program areas are focused on disrupting the risk factors within our community. Our programs and support results in 95 per cent of our young people being engaged in education or employment.

Learn more about the success of our programs here.

Manly residence refurbished and reinvigorated!

We have some exciting news! Our residence in Manly was recently refurbished to welcome three new young people, after five months of hard work on the property. 

In collaboration with three volunteers from ReLove and four volunteers from Stockland volunteering on their Social Responsibility Day, we were able to furnish the rooms and the living spaces of the property. One of the volunteers fortuitously was an Interior Designer who was able to help with determining the layout of the rooms.

ReLove rescues furniture and whitegoods from their corporate partners and community and delivers it directly to people who need a helping hand. They transported the furniture to our property, and supported us with assembling/organising the furniture.

Stockland is a community partner of The Burdekin Association and four of their employees assisted with the refurbishment of the premises. It was an incredibly uplifting experience where collaboration, positivity and interagency support were demonstrated in full! They helped make the process an effective and a positive one for all involved.

There are now three young people living in the property and enjoying the premises. Each of them were empowered to become directly involved, choosing their own furniture for their bedrooms from ReLove and furnishing the property. 

Best of all, each of the young people received a ‘welcome booklet’ to welcome them to their new home, and were encouraged to organise how they wanted to live in the property. 

One of the young people came with their grandmother to share dinner at the premises, see the property and become familiar with it, setting down roots. 

We acknowledge the Aboriginal people of the Cadigal and Gayamaygal Clans. We acknowledge the Country on which we live, work, and gather as being Aboriginal land.

We acknowledge the lands, waterways and skies that are connected to Aboriginal people. We honour them and pay our deepest respects to their Elders past, present and emerging.

We respect their rightful place within our communities, and we value their ancient cultural knowledge and practices.

Aboriginal Flag
Torres Straight Island Flag

We deeply respect that this will always be Aboriginal land and we will honour and follow the first peoples’ values in caring for the Country and for preserving their culture.

We deeply value that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are the oldest living culture in the world and we will continue to work with their peoples and communities to ensure their cultures endure and remain strong.