States Sign Off on Homelessness Agreement
28 March 2013 at 3:27 pm
All State and Territory housing ministers have finally made a deal with the Federal Government in a $320 million agreement to continue national homelessness services but the Not for Profit sector warns that more work needs to be done for the long-term.
The deal came from the Council Of All Governments (COAG) Select Council on Housing and Homelessness, confirming the Federal Government’s $159 million offer from March this year that was conditional on matched funding from the States.
Mission Australia’s CEO Toby Hall said that while this is positive news for homeless individuals and families at risk of homelessness around the nation, more work needs to be done.
“Let’s keep our feet planted on the ground. While welcome, a one-year extension is only a short-term fix,” he said.
“The hard work in terms of hammering out another long-term NPAH agreement is ahead of us.
“As soon as possible, we need our governments to put the politics aside and provide the dollars for another long-term agreement.”
Mission Australia said a failure to arrive at a new $1.1 billion National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness would mean:
- 180 services would lose funding
- More than 80,000 disadvantaged Australians would be left with nowhere to turn for help
- 3,400 community service jobs would be on the line
The Federal Minister for Housing and Homelessness Mark Butler said the agreement ensures that services currently provided under the current National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness continue during the one-year transitional agreement for 2013–14 as the Government continues to work with the States and Territories towards an integrated and holistic response to homelessness beyond 2014.
“Service providers now have the certainty they need about next year’s funding enabling them to continue providing critical support to some of the most vulnerable Australians,” Butler said.
“We’ve invested an unprecedented $20 billion in housing and homelessness services since coming to Government and we remain committed to halving the rate of homelessness by 2020 because every Australian deserves a safe and secure home.”
“As soon as possible, we need our governments to put the politics aside and provide the dollars for another long-term agreement,” Hall said.
The Commonwealth has said that it is committed to additional support for capital projects that help people move out of homelessness into safe and sustainable housing.
“A $76 million development fund will now be available to provide new accommodation arrangements and states and territories will now be invited to bid for a portion of the fund as part of a competitive process,” Butler said.
Hall said that uncertainty in the lead up to today’s COAG agreement has had an effect on homeless service providers.
“The ongoing doubt about funding for individual services has caused a great deal of anxiety for people seeking assistance and the staff working to help them,” he said.
“There have been reports some providers stopped taking clients for fear they wouldn’t have the ongoing funding to support them.
“Experienced workers had also started looking for new jobs amid the uncertainty, creating the potential for important programs to lose valuable employees.
“But now we have certainty – for 12 months at least – we can get on with the job at hand.”