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Look to Finland for housing solutions

  • 07 August 2019


This week is Homelessness Week and it gives us an opportunity to pause and reflect upon the circumstances of some of the most vulnerable individuals within our society. It also affords us a moment to consider what more we can do to overcome what has been dubbed a 'national disgrace' by numerous social welfare agencies.

The statistics are stark. Tonight, approximately 116,000 Australians and 24,000 Victorians will go without access to a safe, stable and secure place to sleep. In my electorate of Ringwood, 236 people will be experiencing homelessness — sleeping rough, couching surfing, or residing in crisis or short-term accommodation.

The crises that lead people into homelessness are numerous, complex and tragic. Some individuals will find themselves suddenly homeless because of a relationship breakdown. Others are victims of abuse, trauma or family violence. Many will be suffering from health complications, addiction and mental illness. Still more will be thrust into homelessness after losing a job and being priced out of an expensive housing and rental market.

All of these people are deserving of our respect, dignity and assistance — and all are deserving of a place to call home.

Much public discussion of homelessness centres on the economic viability of housing solutions. Indeed, many politicians, like myself, will spend hours arguing for or against investment in public, social or affordable housing. Yet the idea of 'home' transcends debates about the base economic unit of housing.

Whether it's the words of Darryl Kerrigan in the classic Australian film The Castle reminding us that 'it's not a house — it's a home'; or those of German philosopher Martin Heidegger in his work Being and Time describing the intermingling of place and self; where we live contains a part of who we are.

What is clear is that people without access to secure and safe housing are not just experiencing a housing crisis — they are locked in a crisis of identity at the same time. A home is a foundation upon which a secure life can be built.


"It is an approach that focuses on the place and function of home in order to give some of the most vulnerable the tools to secure self-identity and purpose."


That's why the Andrews Victorian Labor government has started to invest in a solution. Our homelessness and rough sleeping action plan has seen record investments in preventative measures and in supported housing for women and children fleeing domestic violence. In addition, the most