The Dubbo community won't be able to thrive when homelessness is on the rise, says the head of Mission Australia.
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Mission Australia chief executive officer Sharon Callister used her visit to Dubbo on Thursday to highlight the need for more social housing in Dubbo.
"On any given night in Australia over 122,000 people are without a safe place that they can call home and in Dubbo itself, nearly 300 people are homeless every night," she said.
"Clearly, that crisis needs to stop and there's a lot of work that needs to be done."
Across Australia, homelessness increased from 116,000 to 122,000 between the 2016 and 2021 census.
Ms Callister said during that time, Dubbo saw a 30 per cent rise in the number of homeless people, from 209 to 294.
It's the largest rise in the number of homeless people across the central west and Orana regions.
The 2021 census also found 26.2 per cent of Dubbo residents are in rental stress, that is, more than 30 per cent of their income is spent on rent.
Another 10 per cent said their mortgage was 30 per cent or more of their income.
While most people may think of a homeless person as someone sleeping on the street, Ms Callister said the majority, 94 per cent, were "hidden homeless".
"I think that's what is really staggering. You know, people used to picture someone that was homeless and would be someone that you could see out on the streets and that is absolutely not the case in Australia today," the Mission Australia CEO said.
"They would be potentially couchsurfing, staying temporary with friends and family, they might be in crisis accommodation, overcrowded, boarding houses in places where there is no safety and there's no privacy and it's really not appropriate."
To combat the homelessness crisis, Ms Callister said nearly one million more social housing homes were needed in the next two decades.
She acknowledged the federal government had "some promising signs" when it came to building more homes but said the current number - 30,000 - was too small.
"A house is a really important thing for every family. If you can picture yourself without a home, your whole day is preoccupied. Where am I gonna stay tonight? How am I gonna feel safe? How am I gonna look after my kids?," Ms Callister said.
"If people have a home, then they kids can go to school and they can learn if they have a home, they can work in the workforce, they can actually even train, they might even do both.
"Then in general, a whole community will thrive. Communities can't reach their maximum potential...when so many people are homeless."
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