Mission Australia CEO James Toomey and Housing Executive Chris Bratchford will visit Rokeby on tomorrow to meet with staff to commend their efforts during the pandemic and discuss local concerns.
He tells Dave while in Rokeby tomorrow he will also be urging the community to support Mission Australia’s work and the charity’s calls for action to address the housing affordability crisis in Tasmania.
Mr Toomey said, “The past year has been very challenging for vulnerable people, including people facing homelessness, low incomes and high rents.
“Regional areas in Tasmania in particular have been greatly impacted by increases in rent and a lack of affordable housing. This means that even more people are grappling with the severe rental stress of paying more than 30 per cent of their income on rent, which is placing them on the brink of homelessness,” said Mr Toomey.
Mr Toomey will meet with Mission Australia’s local Housing team to thank staff for their work over the past year. Mission Australia manages more than 500 social homes in Clarence Plains, across Rokeby and Clarendon Vale.
Mr Toomey said, “As we are a charity focussed on ending homelessness and ensuring people and communities in need can thrive, I am immensely grateful for local Mission Australia staff who have risen to the challenge and expertly adapted to COVID-19 requirements while remaining dedicated to delivering vital services and housing at this time of increased need.”
As part of his visits to Mission Australia services, Mr Toomey is also calling for additional supports to help make the private rental market more affordable for people on low to middle incomes.
Mr Toomey said, “We recognise the action the Tasmanian Government has taken to increase supply of social housing, and increase the capacity of the Specialist Homelessness Services sector. In particular, we strongly support the additional $100 million announced this year to build more affordable homes, the Community Housing Growth Program, the Tasmanian Affordable Housing Strategy and associated Action Plans.
“What we also hope to see from Government is a strengthened approach to subsidising private rental market places for people on low incomes. The Government could consider adopting a model similar to NSW’s Rent Choice program. Rent Choice provides medium-term financial assistance for up to three years for low to moderate income households, to enable them to secure and sustain a tenancy in the private rental market.
“Programs such as these help people to gain stable housing and reduce their risk of being pushed into homelessness. When people do become homeless, we believe that a Housing First approach, where people can access housing when they need it and get support to stay housed, is a critical form of support.”
Earlier this week Mr Toomey met with Mission Australia staff in Tasmania and heard about the high demand for youth mental health services in Tasmania. Mission Australia’s Youth Survey 2020 results confirmed that for Tasmanian young people, mental health ranked as the third most important issue affecting Australia today, with more than one-third (34.2%) of respondents from Tasmania nominating this.
“Additional funding and strategies are needed to improve the mental health and wellbeing of young Australians. This should include more age-appropriate prevention and early intervention mental health services for young people.
“We need to make sure that young people can access mental health services when they need them, and an important part of this is funding outreach services that meet young people where they are,” said Mr Toomey.
Mr Toomey added that locals can also support people in need and the vital work of Mission Australia’s frontline staff by donating to the charity.
“Mission Australia’s staff, volunteers, funders and supporters remain committed to ensuring people are safely and appropriately housed and have access to the community supports that they need.
“Every donation goes directly towards ensuring our frontline staff can continue to provide quality support to people in need, and offers a helping hand to those who need it.”