"Find a charity and offer to either donate funds or your time to help".

"Find a charity and offer to either donate funds or your time to help".

We are not winning the war on homelessness. You only have to walk down the streets of our cities to see our failure. While we may have seen a recent reduction in the overall number of rough sleepers, their high visibility on our streets is a shame to us all … and none more so than when we're enjoying the holiday season.

When you compare Australia's response to homelessness to the efforts of other industrialised countries you see we have much to learn.

Australia's failure is not an absence of good policy ideas. It is a problem of our will.

At the heart of our challenge we face a simple truth: we simply do not care enough to take sufficient action to end our homelessness crisis.

Make no mistake, we care about housing.

Australians build the largest houses in the world. Our houses are 10 per cent bigger than in the US and 9 per cent bigger than New Zealand's. But we seem to care more about housing for ourselves than others. How else do we explain the fact that there are an estimated 173,000 Australians on public housing waiting lists?

How else do we explain the fact that a 2011 snapshot of 10,200 properties for private rent in Sydney and the Illawarra found only 123 affordable for households who rely solely on government benefits? That the median asking rent for a typical Darwin house is $700 a week.

That in a list of Australian metropolitan suburbs with the most affordable housing in Australia, the first Perth suburb came in at 389.

That in the last financial year, Mission Australia turned away about 1400 homeless people across just three of our Sydney homeless services because of insufficient resources.

We lack recognition of housing as a right for every Australian. And until we embrace this basic human right we will continue to give governments and our institutions passive permission to keep people homeless.

Every day our hospitals, our jails and our juvenile care systems are releasing people onto the streets with no option for housing. The lack of community outrage about homelessness is a key reason why political will to tackle this issue is so fragile.

In 2008 federal and state governments struck a national partnership agreement to spend $1.1 billion over five years and aimed to halve the number of homeless people and find accommodation for all rough sleepers by 2020. This agreement is due to expire this year, jeopardising the future of more than 180 homelessness programs across the nation. The charitable among us might look back at 2012 and welcome the fact the federal government promised to fund 50 per cent of a one-year interim agreement.

Similarly that the states have expressed a willingness to join in the extension, despite negotiations proceeding painfully slowly.

But while it's better than no agreement at all, the fact we are only talking about a temporary one-year fix is extremely disappointing.

It reflects that homelessness is just not high on the national political agenda. And that's because Australians haven't pressured their leaders to end the homelessness crisis.

There are now more than 100,000 people who are homeless in our nation and the number continues to increase.

The largest homelessness group is people under 18. Seventeen per cent of Australia's homeless are under 10.

If this breaks your heart - standing in the foothills of a brand new year - then don't ignore the problem, do something about it.

Write to your local state and federal member of parliament and tell them you want action to end homelessness.

Find a charity that is working with homeless people and offer to either donate funds or your time to help.

While governments need to show leadership, we all share responsibility for the current situation.

We are all responsible for the homeless man whose eyes you avoid as you rush home to see your family.

We are all responsible for the mum and kids, fleeing domestic violence, sitting on Central Station surrounded by their worldly belongings, wondering where they will spend the night.

If you don't do something - if you don't join us in doing something - neither will our governments.

Toby Hall is chief executive of Mission Australia.