The Council noted that significant progress was being made on implementation of the homelessness reform agenda, in particular in relation to housing construction and refurbishment.
A key matter discussed was the development of the Homelessness National Quality Framework. Members indicated strong support for phasing in a Framework over time, and for the Framework to eventually incorporate a national system for improving services supporting the homeless, whether they be specialist homelessness services, mainstream services such as health and employment, and delivered by government or non-government agencies.
The Council emphasised the importance of working with the service delivery sector and States and Territories to achieve such a Framework and recommended the development of the Framework through a two-stage consultation process. The first stage will be about working with the sector to build consensus on what quality is and how this can be recognised. The second stage will consider different options to achieve quality improvement such as accreditation.
The Council agreed that there needs to be a focus on service integration, and on specific strategies around supporting change to achieve the White Paper’s vision. The need for working with the service delivery sector through open communication, provision of additional support and encouragement, as well as capitalising on enhancement of existing foundations or models or expansion of them to other areas were considered relevant approaches.
The Council will seek an opportunity to participate in broader health agendas currently underway to ensure that appropriate attention is paid to the impact of these programs and policies on people experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness. The Council is of the view that improvement to health services and addressing the mental health needs of homeless people is critical to achieving ‘no exits from care into homelessness’ and to achieving better outcomes for homeless people.
The next meeting of the Council is scheduled for 15 and 16 February 2010 in Sydney.