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Advancing Housing Solutions: Insights from the 5th National Housing and Homelessness Forum

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Australia’s housing and homelessness sector faces multifaceted challenges, requiring innovative approaches to service delivery and support systems.  

While the ongoing pandemic has exacerbated the homelessness crisis, it is crucial to acknowledge that the issue runs deeper than a singular cause. The pandemic has only revealed the existing flaws in societal systems and institutions that have been neglected for decades.  

Third Sector’s 5th National Housing and Homelessness Forum brought together over 220 committed professionals to exchange knowledge, explore evidence-based practices, and delve into the factors that can drive positive change in the sector.  

Third Sector’s 4-day forum, which was held from the 16th to 19th May at Double Tree by Hilton Hotel Esplanade in Darwin provided delegates with information on creating successful pathways out of homelessness by focusing on preventive and early intervention measures, expediting ‘service delivery, and enhancing accessibility.  

“This emphasises the need for us, as a nation, to address the historical injustices ingrained in our country’s foundation and to move forward on reforms such as The Voice that may chart a new path forward for us all,” said Social Futures CEO Tony Davies.   

Davies stressed the importance of ongoing discussions and collaborative efforts to tackle the homelessness crisis on a national scale, stating that the city grapples with a significant rate of homelessness, 

He added that there is a clear cultural dimension to homelessness, which affects First Nations communities so much more than the broader population in Australia.  

The event presented a critical opportunity to explore innovative solutions and strategies to address these challenges effectively.  

Mayor Ted Wheeler of Portland, in sharing the city’s experience, highlighted that homelessness is the result of 30-40 years of disregard for the issue.    

The forum’s location in Darwin, in the beautiful Larrakia Country, added a symbolic resonance to the discussions. Like the Northern Rivers region and Darwin, communities have shown remarkable resilience in the face of adversity, including natural disasters like Cyclone Tracy. This connection underscored the urgency to address homelessness, which disproportionately affects First Nations communities.  

NHFIC CEO Nathan Dal Bon, shared the organization’s successful collaborations with government, Community Housing Providers (CHPs), and investors, resulting in significant progress in housing outcomes for Australians.  

“It was a valuable opportunity to contribute to the ongoing discussions about the steps we need to take as a nation to tackle the homelessness crisis,” said Dal Bon.   

Haven Home Safe’s CEO Trudi Ray discussed their organisation’s story and how their path towards greater impact is by working towards improving client wellbeing. She further emphasized how the collective impact and investment in our energy needs to have outcomes they can influence. 

The forum shed light on the interplay between poverty and homelessness, emphasising the need for policy choices that invest in affordable housing and support systems.  

“It’s time to get cracking on a national plan to end homelessness in Australia. Homelessness may be driven by poverty but it’s a policy choice to not fund the services and roofs where they’re needed most,” said Youth Projects CEO Ben Vasiliou. 

As the event ended, it became clear that tackling homelessness needed collaborative action, political commitment, and long-term investment. By drawing on the expertise and experiences shared at the event, leaders in the housing and homelessness sector are better equipped to advocate for change, promote evidence-based practices, and work towards a future where safe and affordable housing is accessible to all. 

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Menchie Khairuddin is a writer Deputy Content Manager at Akolade and content producer for Third Sector News. She is passionate about social affairs specifically in mixed, multicultural heritage and not-for-profit organisations.


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