The following fact sheet highlights the Australian and Victorian governments' efforts to reduce homelessness and includes details on Victoria’s Implementation Plan under the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness.
Homelessness in Victoria
According to the Counting the Homeless report, 20,511 Victorians were homeless on Census night 2006. Of these:
- 2,204 were sleeping rough
- 63 per cent were aged 34 or younger
- 19 per cent were aged 12 to 18 years
- 14 per cent were children under 12 years who were with either one or both parents
- 3.8 per cent were Indigenous.
What we are doing
The Australian and Victorian governments are committed to reducing homelessness.
In December 2008, the Australian Government released the White Paper on Homelessness, The Road Home, which called on all levels of government, business, the not-for-profit sector and the community to join together to reduce homelessness.
The Road Home outlined the need for new investment in homelessness and reform of existing services. Homelessness should be prevented wherever possible. People who experience homelessness should be supported to move quickly through the crisis system into long-term housing and at the same time get help to reconnect with education, employment and the community. Mainstream services and homelessness services have to work together more effectively to reduce homelessness.
In The Road Home, the Australian Government adopted two headline goals:
- to halve the rate of overall homelessness by 2020
- offer supported accommodation to all rough sleepers who seek it by 2020.
The White Paper also included interim targets to 2013 to contribute to these long-term goals.
Work already underway
In The Road Home the Australian Government committed to boost its efforts across all areas of government to achieve the 2020 headline goals and interim targets for reducing homelessness. This is especially important in areas such as social housing, employment, income support and aged care.
Specific Australian Government initiatives include:
- $1.27 billion allocated to Victoria to construct new dwellings and refurbish existing social housing dwellings as part of the $5.6 billion Nation Building Economic Stimulus Plan; over 4,600 new dwellings have been approved under Stages One and Two
- $99.2 million to Victoria under the National Partnership Agreement on Social Housing to increase the supply of social housing through the construction of new dwellings
- improvements to Centrelink's capacity to respond to people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness
- additional emergency relief funding, more personal helpers and mentors for people living with severe mental illness, innovative employment services and increased capital and recurrent funding for elderly people who are homeless.
New work through the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness
As part of The Road Home, in December 2008, the Council of Australian Governments established a National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness. Under the Agreement the Australian Government has agreed to provide additional funding for homelessness to the states and territories who have agreed to match Australian Government funding and deliver services and capital projects that will contribute to an overall reduction in homelessness.
The Australian and Victorian governments will contribute $209.7 million over five years to reduce homelessness under the Agreement. Victoria has developed an Implementation Plan setting out new initiatives and additional services which will make a substantial contribution toward the achievement of the 2013 interim targets to reduce homelessness.
The Implementation Plan
The Victorian Implementation Plan under the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness has a focus on prevention, early intervention and building a foundation to reform and diversify the response to homelessness in Victoria. Under the Agreement Victoria is delivering a number of initiatives. Measures include:
A Place to Call Home
- 118 long-term accommodation units provided with support services to be located in Melbourne, outer metropolitan and rural/regional Victoria.
- Youth facility to accommodate and support up to 45 young people in regional Victoria. Additional outreach support will also be provided to young people in the surrounding area.
Housing Support and Sustain Tenancies
- Social Housing Advocacy and Support Program (SHASP) that supports 'at risk' social housing tenants to prevent housing breakdown will be enhanced and expanded to take a more proactive approach.
- Two intensive support and response services will be established to help individuals and families access and sustain accommodation in the outer metropolitan growth areas.
Psychosocial Support Packages
- Fifty intensive psychosocial support packages for people with enduring mental illness and psychiatric disability to provide holistic responses to achieve stability and improve social inclusion for the chronically homeless.
Young People Leaving Care
- Proactive and intensive response for young people across Victoria to ensure a successful transition to sustainable accommodation and independence.
- Outreach Services targeting single people and couples including those who are sleeping rough and who reside in rooming houses across Victoria will have pathways to long-term sustainable housing providing tailored / intensive support over an extended period.
Support for Women and Children to Remain Safely in the Family Home
- Increase support across Victoria to enable more women and children to stay safely in the family home. The support will be in the form of case management to women who have been referred by police, courts and other services following a family violence incident.
Support Exiting Prison
- New Housing Support Worker positions, located at the major prisons to provide case management support prior and post release.
Support for Indigenous Women and Children
- New services response will provide a new holistic approach for Indigenous women and children experiencing family violence. Target area: Gippsland and Loddon Mallee Regions.
Support for Families at Risk of Homelessness
Case management support, including financial counselling to families experiencing homelessness to maintain their accommodation. State-wide initiative.
Build Mainstream Services Responsiveness
- Engagement of mainstream services and government agencies to build capacity to enable services to respond to people who are homeless and prevent those at risk of homelessness.
For information on progress against these and other initiatives under the Victorian Implementation Plan, see their 2009-10 Annual Report.