Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Premier outlines a caring state

The Premier, Paul Lennon has committed to halving the number of homeless people in Tasmania by the end of 2010, as well as tackling child abuse and social disadvantage.

Mr Lennon told Parliament the Government will fight poverty, mental illness and family breakdown with a Social Inclusion Unit.

A former director of the Catholic Social Welfare Commission will work with the unit, which will be in the department of Premier and Cabinet.

The Tasmanian Council of Social Service has welcomed the move, with the chief executive, Tom Muller saying the unit needs a clear focus.

"From our perspective a social inclusion unit has got to be driving a government agenda to tackle poverty and disadvantage," he said.

The Premier also appointed a housing expert to advise the Government on how to reduce homelessness.

Roseanne Haggerty founded the not for profit housing organisation Common Ground Community in New York, and has also worked to combat homelessness in Adelaide.

Mr Lennon says his first objective will target emergency housing and people who have no home.

The Government recently added $60 million to its public housing fund.

Anglicare's chief executive, Chris Jones, wants an urgent start on halving the number of homeless Tasmanians.

"We need that to happen quickly," he said.

"We need initiatives that will lead to keys to people's homes soon."

Mr Lennon also announced a commitment to reducing the number of children on care and protection orders, as well as increasing literacy and numeracy levels.

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