Minister for Housing Tanya Plibersek and Member for Page Janelle Saffin today toured the Lismore Homeless Shelter.

Delivering on an election commitment to provide a homeless shelter in Lismore, the Australian Government provided $200,000 for the purchase and construction of the shelter in June 2009.

The shelter, which is operated by the Lismore Soup Kitchen with support from Lismore City Council and St Vincent de Paul, opened its doors in November.

It provides accommodation and meals people in Lismore who are doing it tough.

Ms Plibersek said the Rudd Government had made homelessness a national priority.

“Homelessness can happen to anyone – an individual’s or family’s circumstances can change very quickly,” Ms Plibersek said.

“Nearly half of the 105,000 Australians who are homeless on a given night are under the age of 25, and more than 12,000 are children.

“Australia can’t allow the 50,000 kids who pass through homeless shelters each year to be condemned to a lifetime of disadvantage.

“Our goal is to halve the rate of homelessness in Australia and offer accommodation to all rough sleepers who seek it by 2020.”

Ms Saffin said the shelter was making a difference in the lives of local people.

“Reducing homelessness requires a national commitment and strong leadership from all levels of government and from the not-for-profit and business sectors,” Ms Saffin said.

“This centre shows what can be achieved when we all work together to assist people who are homeless.”

The Rudd Government is spending $4.9 billion over four years to address homelessness, with an additional $400 million from the States and Territories.