Monday, 23rd March 2015 at 10:07 am
The Federal Government has extended homelessness funding for another two years, providing $230 million under the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness – just as current funding was due to run out in June 2015.
Federal Minister for Social Services, Scott Morrison said the Government will provide $230 million to extend the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness (NPAH) until 2017, with funding priority given to frontline services focusing on women and children experiencing domestic and family violence, and homeless youth under 18.
“Labor turned off the funding tap for homelessness in their last budget failing to make any provision for Commonwealth funding for NPAH after 30 June 2014,” Morrison said.
“The Coalition acted when coming to Government to restore funding for the homelessness partnership for the current year and will now extend this commitment for a further two years while a comprehensive review is undertaken on Federal-State responsibilities.
“The Coalition Government recognises that domestic violence is a leading cause of homelessness and that women and children are particularly vulnerable. The Government will therefore be ensuring that funding priority under the extension will be given to homelessness service providers that work with women and children in these situations.”
In February some 60 Not for Profit organisations and peak bodies warned of homelessness program closures unless the Federal Government urgently renewed the funding.
The Not for Profits signed a joint open letter to Minister Scott Morrison calling for Federal homelessness funding to be continued, and a commitment to a four year National Homelessness Partnership Agreement.
The organisations led by peak body, Homelessness Australia, had warned that tens of thousands of homelessness clients will be left abandoned if the Federal Government does not extend the $115 National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness (NPAH).
Some of the other signatories include the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS), Mission Australia, the Salvation Army, Jesuit Social Services, Anglicare, Australian Youth Affairs Coalition, Kids Under Cover and the Council for Homeless Persons.
The letter said the “annual suspense as we await confirmation that the NPAH funding will be extended for a further 12 months leaves our clients and workforce anxious, and our homelessness services hamstrung”.
“This year is the third year in a row that homelessness services have been on tenterhooks as to whether we can continue our work,” the letter said.
The Federal Minister, in renewing the funding, said that according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), in 2013/14 about 85,000 adults and children sought help from specialist homelessness service agencies for domestic and family violence, an increase of nine per cent from 2012/13.
“We have brought forward this announcement ahead of the May Budget to give providers of homelessness services across Australia more certainty, enabling them to get on with their work of helping some of our most vulnerable people,” Morrison said.
“States and Territories will now need to match the Commonwealth’s commitment to homelessness funding under the NPAH, so we can continue to work together to ensure funding is going to frontline services. Accordingly I have written to State Ministers seeking their commitment to support this partnership and to advise them of the Government's decision.
“The Australian Government will also be looking to put in place reporting arrangements with the states and territories that ensure the effectiveness of service delivery in these critical areas.
“Once funding is matched by the States and Territories, the 2015-17 NPAH will allow for continuity of homelessness services across Australia.
“Under the NPAH, jurisdictions retain the flexibility to decide which service providers in these priority areas should be funded and in which locations.
“The extension of NPAH funding provides the sector with more certainty over the next two years to ensure critical frontline services are maintained. Longer-term funding arrangements and the respective roles of the Commonwealth and State and Territory Governments in housing and homelessness will be considered in the context of the Government’s White Paper on Reform of the Federation.”