While the battle heats up over the upcoming election, a report released just yesterday serves as a stark reminder of the enormous task ahead to find stable long-term accommodation for the many tens of thousands of Australians left out in the cold every night.

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has reported that two in every three homeless people are being turned away from crisis accommodation each night. It found that 62 percent of homeless people were unable to find a bed on any given day during 2008-09. An average of 80% of couples with children who requested new and immediate accommodation were turned away each day.

The report, Demand for government-funded specialist homelessness accommodation 2008-09: a report from the SAAP National Data Collection, also showed that 90 percent of the homeless were Australian-born, with more than a quarter indigenous.

Responding to the report, Mission Australia chief executive Toby Hall labelled the dire circumstances of Australia’s homeless “shameful”. He said that, “Over decades, our country's approach towards helping people out of homelessness has been a failure”.

Fortunately some of the current government’s stimulus money is being targeted towards social housing, and homelessness is still very high on the political radar. Hopefully this new report serves as a timely reminder to our political leaders that much more needs to be done to make housing accessible and affordable for all Australians.