· Homeless people need support to self-isolate
· Government must ensure easier access to emergency accommodation
· No-one should be fined for being homeless
Tasmania’s homeless population must be given urgent support to help them comply with self-isolation requirements.
Labor Leader Rebecca White said the State Government must ensure easier access to emergency accommodation to allow people without a home to remain safe and secure during the COVID-19 crisis.
“On any given night, 1,600 Tasmanians are homeless, and many other families are couch surfing, relying on their friends and families or living in sheds, cars or tents,” Ms White said.
“This is unacceptable at the best of times, but during this crisis, it is also dangerous for everyone.
“All people who are homeless need shelter so they can safely self-isolate, and there needs to be easier access to emergency accommodation to enable immediate compliance.
“The Government adopted Labor’s suggestion to provide accommodation for people without a fixed address by using vacant hotel rooms or properties previously listed on the sharing economy.
“However, we are hearing that there are real problems accessing this support which leaves homeless Tasmanians particularly vulnerable during this crisis.
“It is impossible for someone who is homeless to follow the advice to stay home, when they don’t have a home.
“We also strongly urge the Government to expand the eligibility for this assistance to young people living rough who are under 18. They too should have access to brokerage funds to help them access housing.
“With peak bodies highlighting a surge in demand for help, there is also an urgent need for better support for homeless shelters, their workforce and clients.
“We are hearing concerns from people working in the sector that there is not enough access to personal protective equipment, such as masks and gloves.
“The government should also extend the length of time people can stay in shelters so that no-one is moved on during this crisis. This would be consistent with steps taken in other states and is a practice that should be adopted in Tasmania.
“There is also a desperate need to make the Public Health Hotline a freecall service so that all Tasmanians can access support and advice to make the best decisions about how to keep themselves and the community safe.”