NFPs Warn of Homelessness Program Closures in Govt Appeal
Tuesday, 10th February 2015
at 8:48 am
Lina Caneva, Editor
Some 60 Not for Profit organisations and peak bodies Australia-wide have 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, have 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 says 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,” it said.
“We cannot negotiate with our staff whose contracts soon expire. We cannot tell clients that the programs they have relied on will continue. We must carefully deliberate whether to accept new clients into those programs which have a long-term delivery model.
“Women and children fleeing domestic violence, young people who can’t stay with their families and long-term rough sleepers looking for a bed for the night are all affected by the lack of certainty that a one-year funding cycle creates.
“You do your budget planning on a four-yearly cycle; please let us do the same. Please commit to a four year National Homelessness Partnership Agreement and give homelessness services the certainty we need to deliver housing and support to vulnerable people."
Homelessness Australia CEO Glenda Stevens said a failure to continue the funding could see up to 180 homelessness services close affecting some 80,000 people who use those services.
The NPAH funding is due to expire on 30 June and provides for over 90 homelessness programs in Victoria alone.
“The uncertainty around the future of NPAH funding is alarming for agencies, their workers, and most importantly, their clients.,” Acting CEO for the Council to Homeless Persons. Sarah Toohey said.
In 2013-14, the number of people seeking assistance in Victoria from homelessness services jumped from 92,000 to 99,000.
Toohey urged the Federal Government to end the uncertainty around the funding before the May budget is released.
“Waiting until May is too late. The homelessness sector needs to be able to be able to responsibly plan budgets, programs and staff with the confidence, and [is] being left hanging.”
Federal Minister for Social Services, Scott Morrison said late last week : “I appreciate that the sector is interested in an early announcement about funding beyond 30 June 2015.
“Future arrangements for the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness will be considered in the context of the 2015-16 Budget, while longer-term arrangements for housing assistance and homelessness services will be considered in the context of the White Paper on Reform of the Federation the Government has commissioned.”
Morrison made the statement when announcing an agreement on the 2014-15 NSW implementation plan for the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness (NPAH).
“It will support the roll out of $86 million across NSW in 2014-15 to help homelessness service providers consolidate the recent Going Home Staying Home reforms of specialist homelessness services in NSW.
“This will enable all of the new specialist homelessness services in NSW to receive almost 10 per cent more funding under the NPAH,” he said.