28 May 2020

homeless manThe pursuit of zero homelessness in Australia is one step closer this week as renowned social change expert and Industry Adjunct with the University of South Australia, David Pearson, is appointed as the first CEO for the Australian Alliance to End Homelessness.

The Australian Alliance to End Homelessness (AAEH) is an independent champion for preventing and ending homelessness in Australia – and with UniSA’s David Pearson at the helm, South Australia will be in a key position to find long-term solutions for ending homelessness.

As the inaugural CEO, Pearson will work closely with researchers from The Australian Alliance for Social Enterprise (TAASE) at UniSA, who helped to pioneer the development and implementation of the Australian Zero Homelessness approach. 

In Australia, homelessness in all forms in increasing. On any given night, more than 116,000 or one in 200 people, are homeless, with around 8200 people sleeping on the streets, or ‘sleeping rough’.

While many consider homelessness insurmountable, David Pearson thinks otherwise.

“There’s no doubt that homelessness is a complex and multilayered issue, impacted by many factors. But despite common misconceptions, the scale of homelessness is both preventable and solvable; it’s all about priorities,” Pearson says.

“Take Australia’s response to the pandemic, for example. In the first eight weeks of the Covid-19 crisis, organisations connected to the AAEH have supported more than 5000 people sleeping rough – or at immediate risk of sleeping rough – into temporary shelter.

“This sort of response shows that we’re able to make immediate change, if we need to. The issue is ensuring we hold onto the change for the long term.”

Latest data shows approximately 99 people sleeping rough in Adelaide - the lowest figure in years. Paradoxically, Pearson says it’s cheaper for Australian taxpayers to pay for permanent housing and alleviate homelessness than it is to allow rough sleeping to continue.

Congratulating Pearson on his new role, UniSA affordable housing researcher and Executive Dean of UniSA Business, Professor Andrew Beer says the appointment will enable UniSA and South Australia to continue to lead this important research space, and the synergies between Pearson’s roles as CEO and Industry Adjunct will be critical to ensuring that reform is informed by evidence.

Demonstrating his commitment to ending homelessness, Professor Beer will be participating the June 18 CEO Sleepout.

“Homelessness is an issue we can all help to eradicate,” Prof Beer says.

“This is not just a choice, it’s an essential step towards securing the safety of some of Australia’s most vulnerable people, and at UniSA, we’re proud to be spearheading this vital work.”


Notes to Editors:

The appointment of David Pearson, former CEO of the Don Dunstan Foundation, as the first CEO of the Australian Alliance to End Homelessness was made possible by the Myer Innovation Fellowship, which supports three leaders and problem solvers each year to create breakthrough solutions to some of Australia’s most pressing social and environmental challenges.


Media contact:  Annabel Mansfield office (08) 8302 0351 mobile 0417 717 504
UniSA researcher: Industry Adjunct David Pearson mobile 0437 310 239 email David.Pearson@unisa.edu.au

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