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With the Illawarra facing the windiest days of the year, I am calling on the NSW State Government to do more to protect the homeless in our community.

The severe weather warning comes during “Homelessness Week”, which aims to raise the awareness of the 116,000 Australians who are homeless on any given night.

Homelessness is not always visible or obvious.

People living in their cars, couch surfing or in temporary accommodation are also homeless. A profound shortage of affordable and available rental housing, domestic and family violence, poverty and unemployment are all contributing to homelessness in NSW.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ (ABS) Census of Population and Housing, the number of homeless people in Australia increased by 13.7% between 2011 and 2016, rising from 102,439 to 116,427. NSW recorded the largest increase in the number of people experiencing homelessness with the homeless rate from 40.8 to 50.4 people per 10,000.

The rise in homelessness across NSW is staggering.

I see it in Sydney, I see it in Shellharbour.

It is everywhere - we have to do something.

Australia is a developed, industrialised nation. Any homelessness at all is indicative of failure – failure of policy, failure of will, failure of compassion.

Most disturbing is the sharp increase of women sleeping rough, with a 56% increase between 2011 and 2016.

11400 women will be homeless tonight and those aged over 55 are experiencing the largest increase in homelessness.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian vowed to halve the number of people sleeping on the state's streets by 2025 but the NSW Government’s 2019-20 budget contained no additional funding to address homelessness.

I will be writing to the Premier to push for immediate action. I want to know exactly how the Berejiklian Government plans on tackling homelessness.

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