Support NAHA and don't turn back on vulnerable Australians, says SYFS chief Narelle Clay

CONCERNED: SYFS chief executive Narelle Clay hopes the government won't axe the NAHA scheme. Picture: Adam McLean
CONCERNED: SYFS chief executive Narelle Clay hopes the government won't axe the NAHA scheme. Picture: Adam McLean

The Federal Government has done little to quell fears it will make blanket cuts to essential homelessness and housing programs funded under the National Affordable Housing Agreement (NAHA).

Southern Youth and Family Services (SYFS) chief executive Narelle Clay was ‘’shocked and alarmed’’ by media reports which suggest the Turnbull government is set to scrap the scheme in the May budget.

‘’It’s totally outrageous the Turnbull Government would turn its back on so many vulnerable Australians,’’ Ms Clay said.

‘’Ending the NAHA would affect tens of thousands of children and young people who are homeless, tens of thousands of women escaping domestic violence, and tens of thousands of adults with mental health problems in our community.’’

Assistant Minister to the Treasurer, Michael Sukkar, told The Australian – ‘’given the nearly $9bn of payments from the Commonwealth to the states and territories under this agreement since 2009, it’s understandable to question the value of this spend, given affordable housing outcomes have got worse over that time.’’

Ms Clay said comments such as this were unhelpful and needed to be clarified as a matter of urgency by the Federal Government.

Asked by the Mercury whether the government was looking to make cuts to NAHA programs, a spokesperson for the Treasurer Scott Morrison said ‘’the Government will make an announcement when it is in a position to do so’’.

Ms Clay said NAHA was a good mechanism if ‘’you enhance and improve it’’.

She said lack of supply was one of the main problems with affordable housing.

‘’You can’t blame the agreement [NAHA] itself of not addressing homelessness and housing affordability to its fullest degree if in fact the main core is supply,’’ Ms Clay said.

‘’The second key thing is homelessness services sit inside that agreement. I think what has to happen is that homelessness money must be secure and quarantined, whether it is connected to that same replacement agreement or returned to being a separate agreement.’’

SYFS provided services to 1675 families across the Illawarra, Shoalhaven, Southern Tablelands, Queanbeyan, and Far South Coast areas in 2015-16.

‘’Most of these people would not get help if the NAHA ended,’’ she said.

This story SYFS chief calls on government not to scrap national affordable housing scheme first appeared on Illawarra Mercury.