On the Cusp of Change: Western Australia’s timely need for a substantive equality framework to respond to homelessness

On the Cusp of Change: Western Australia’s timely need for a substantive equality framework to respond to homelessness

On any one night, there are 105,000 people experiencing homelessness in Australia with many more living in insecure housing, one step away from being homeless. As part of the 2017 election campaign promise to reduce inefficiencies in the public sector, the Western Australian Labor Party announced the amalgamation of the new Department of Community Services. The ergonomics of this timely reassessment of the machinery of government provides a unique opportunity to alter the very philosophy of the public sector by implementing a client centric service delivery model through the principles of substantive equality. Through the lens of the traditional dimensions of substantive equality and with reference to the Indigenous Australian homeless experience, it is evident that the current model is a vehicle that perpetuates systemic discrimination. Establishing a substantive equality model from the outset, would enable positive cross portfolio collaboration with a meaningful response to homelessness that extends beyond ‘managing homelessness’ to reducing homelessness and maintaining people in sustainable housing. Though there is much to be optimistic about, this submission remains cautious that the very success of such a policy relies solely on the government’s positive commitment to make a philosophical change from the top of government down.

PUBLICATION DATE: 2017