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Move to set up National Homelessness Forum

14 June 2005

Move to set up National Homelessness Forum

The first-ever nationwide gathering of agencies who work with homeless people has moved to establish a national forum to push for policy and law changes.

More than 100 people from around the country attended “Sleeping Rough in New Zealand: A National Homeless Forum” in Auckland today.

The event was hosted by Auckland City and the Auckland Rough Sleepers Initiative to encourage discussion about the issue of homelessness.

The chairperson of the Community Development and Equity Committee, Councillor Cathy Casey, says the forum was a huge success.

“It was a great opportunity to share ideas and experiences about homelessness. This is a national issue and the obstacles to progress are the same everywhere.

“There’s a lack of interest in the problem, a lack of funding and agencies are struggling to make a difference. We now want to see more attention paid to the issue of homelessness,” Dr Casey says.

The forum resolved to establish a national body to lobby for better outcomes for homeless people in all areas of life.

The new “National Homelessness Forum” aims to:

bring together data and research on homelessness develop a website where data can be accessed push for Government funding for initiatives to help homeless people advocate for a national homelessness policy ensure that homelessness is considered in legislation lobby for local authorities to adopt policies on homelessness

Seven people from a cross section of agencies will now work to set-up the ‘National Homelessness Forum’.

“Homelessness has been around for years in New Zealand and yet it is barely acknowledged in any laws or policy. We hope the new national forum will encourage debate about the issue and that its advocacy role will mean more time and Government resources are spent to address the issue of homelessness,” Dr Casey says. The head of the Auckland Rough Sleepers Initiative, Wilf Holt, believes the new national forum could make a real difference.

“This is an excellent start to a new era of informed and co-operative action to meet the needs of rough sleepers, “ Mr Holt says.

The Wellington City Council has provisionally agreed to host another National Homeless Forum next year.

ENDS

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