A home is much more than four walls. A safe, affordable home is necessary to meet our most basic needs. Homelessness takes an enormous toll on physical and mental health. Homelessness destroys hope and damages lives. The importance of a home cannot be overstated. It is a fundamental human right.
Homelessness can be solved. It requires a decent supply of long term, affordable housing and the appropriate support to ensure that housing will be sustained.
The Australian Government committed to ensuring all people in Australia have a safe and stable home when it ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in 1975. By ratifying this Covenant, under international law, Australia agreed to respect, protect and fulfil these rights, including the right to housing and an adequate standard of living.
In March, we collaborated with Dr Jessie Hohmann, an international expert on the right to housing, to engage with the UN regarding homelessness in Australia. At a Zoom meeting with the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, we highlighted our concerns about the right to housing in Australia, particularly where the government is breaching its responsibilities under the Covenant. Amongst people experiencing homelessness, we are particularly concerned about the overrepresentation of older women, young people and First Nations Peoples.
The full text of the Mercy Foundation’s submissions to the Committee can be found here: https://bit.ly/3q78WX8
Our discussions helped inform the UN’s List of Issues that the Australian government will be asked to respond to in its report to the UN in 2023. The List of Issues were released in April, and we were pleased to see a number of references to our concerns around the right to housing.