Our Say: Homelessness figures a shock we must face

It is a sad blight on our country that we are failing in our approach to curb the ever increasing number of people forced into homelessness.

It is shameful that almost 10 years after former prime minister Kevin Rudd described the issue as a "national obscenity" there are now more people than ever on the streets.

That there are huge numbers of people with nowhere to live, couch surfing, or living in cars is not a secret, but it is a mystery how successive governments have failed to deal with the problem.

It should not take a decade to determine the country needs a bipartisan, long-term and strategic approach, not a splintered framework between governments and services.

Homelessness Australia has called for a "well-resourced strategy" to address the problem by extending evidence-based responses across the country "complemented by the necessary supply of social and affordable housing".

No doubt this is a similar sentiment to what has been called for years and perhaps one day the federal government will listen.

It should, of course, act sooner rather than later.

While some politicians, community organisations and service providers are certainly trying to fix homelessness it there is not likely to be an easy solution.

In a passionate plea to the community to support a solution to and help spread the message about youth homelessness, Father Chris Riley, founder of Youth of the Street, said that every day there were 44,000 homeless young people across Australia.

That is just the young. The total figure would be much higher. How much higher would probably be a matter of guesswork … these are people who have already fallen through the cracks. They are homeless, they are lost, they are neglected.

As Father Riley observed: “We live in one of the wealthiest countries in the world yet we still can’t manage to give the support and care to those who need it most.”

In this city the numbers of homeless people would be relatively small but none the less worrying. Raw numbers would be far bigger in the metropolitan areas.

As relatively well-off Dubbo residents return from the Easter long weekend break it's worth a thought that this is not a problem going on elsewhere - it's right on our doorstep. We should start fixing it in our home town.