The Australian St Vincent de Paul Society is holding the Australian government to it commitment of cutting homeless numbers in half by the end of the decade.

They are calling for a bipartisan commitment in Canberra to the commitment made originally by in 2008 by Kevin Rudd as Prime Minister.

The call came as “Vinnies” launched their annual CEO Sleepout, now in its eighth year, to be held in June.

The aim is to raise $2 million in NSW and $7 million nationally to fund homeless programs while raising awareness of how to help tackle homelessness.

“Vinnies” NSW CEO Michael Perusco says the 2008 Federal policy was the first White Paper on homelessness and has led to state and federal governments looking at what should change to get the homeless into ongoing accommodation.

The last Census in 2011 recorded more than 105 thousand homeless people in Australia, an eight per cent increase on the 2006 Census.

Michael Perusco says the policy discussion by governments about how to address homelessness has, importantly, continued even where governments have changed.

“Here in NSW, Labor was in when the targets were established. The Coalition government has been in power for a couple of years and they under Pru Goward have made really strong inroads,” Michael said.

Changes are taking time, Michael concedes, but he says work is being done to shift away from a crisis focus, to early intervention and prevention and to build on improvements in services for those with mental illness.

“We’re using this year’s event to call on both sides of the political fence Federally to recommit to the targets to reduce homelessness, so to halve homelessness by 2020,” Michael said.

“We think that some very good work’s been done, some momentum’s been built, and if it was to stop come September that would be a real shame for people who are homeless,” he said.

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