People experiencing homelessness and companion animals

Today Abigail spoke on the need to fix our laws to protect people experiencing homelessness, who often also have companion animals. 

Abigail said:

On behalf of The Greens I contribute to debate on this important motion from the Hon. Emma Hurst. I thank her for moving the motion. People who share their lives with companion animals have the same right to a home as those who do not, but currently they are being failed by our rental laws and by social supports that fail to recognise the important role of companion animals in many of our lives. Fundamentally, the housing crisis is a product of homes being treated as commodities rather than homes, and denying people the right to share their homes with their companion animals is one way in which that crisis manifests. The Greens have long campaigned for an end to blanket bans on pets in rental properties, alongside ending no-grounds evictions, introducing better minimum standards in rental accommodation, regulating tenancy databases and rent bidding, and freezing rents.

Letting renters have pets has been core to The Greens' long-running renters' rights campaign. I am proud to have spoken in the past in this place in support of outlawing blanket bans on pets in strata properties. Our rental laws make it incredibly tough for the almost two-thirds of people who have a pet. Only 2 per cent of rental properties allow pets, meaning it can be extremely hard for pet owners to find a decent place to live. Often people with pets hold off on moving house because they know they may have to choose between their furry family member or a roof over their head. That is not only devastating for the pets who have to be rehomed or surrendered for rescue; it is also unsafe for their humans. Many people in domestic violence relationships cite insecurity for their pets as a reason for choosing to not leave. Many people experiencing homelessness had their companion animals before becoming unhoused. Similarly, they link their homelessness with the difficulty of owning a pet in this housing market. Surely, that is an unequivocally unjust state of affairs, and it must change.

Homeless people with companion animals deserve to access support services alongside their pets. Most crisis accommodation is unable to accommodate pets, and many people who are experiencing homelessness refuse crisis accommodation if accessing it means surrendering their companion animals. Failing to resource homelessness and domestic violence crisis services to accommodate pets is creating a perverse outcome in which pet owners are unable to be accommodated if they are unwilling to be separated from their companion animal. As the motion states, we must ensure that crisis accommodation is resourced to be pet friendly, separate emergency housing for pets must be resourced and available, and we must fix our broken rental laws that are leaving people with pets without viable places to live. The Greens wholeheartedly support the motion.

 

The motion passed successfully! 

Read the full transcript in Hansard here.

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