Monday, 23 April 2012

Visioning the End to Homelessness

The New Zealand Coalition to End Homelessness (NZCEH) met this week in Wellington to discuss the planning and strategies around their vision to end homelessness in New Zealand by 2020. They were hosted by Downtown Community Ministry (DCM).

Corie Haddock, service manager of Lifewise, and chair of NZCEH says, “Homelessness is not a lifestyle choice. It is a result, and an example, of extreme social exclusion. Homelessness is a complex issue, and can effect a wide population.

“We want to ensure that the needs of homeless people and NZCEH’s strategies are at the forefront of our government’s future social policy frameworks. We want to emulate Australia’s national policies on ending homelessness, and learn from their experiences when developing our own policies.”

In Australia, homelessness has been on the political agenda since the election of the current government in 2007. There have been a number of national, state and regional consultations and a target of halving national homelessness by 2020.

Stephanie McIntyre, director of DCM says, “We want a clear commitment from the New Zealand government that they want to end homelessness in NZ. The state of Victoria in Australia has established and committed to a ten-year cross- governmental plan to reduce homelessness which has been endorsed at Ministerial level”.

Like DCM, NZCEH believes that every person has the right to participate freely and fully in their lives and develop their potential as human beings. However, homeless people are often excluded from these fundamental rights due to a wide range of barriers.

Stephanie says, “Often homeless people aren’t able to enjoy the benefits of our society like the rest of us, and changing this is vital to the dignity, equality and security that each person deserves.”