Statement by Senator the Hon Mark Arbib

Joint Meeting of the Housing Ministers’ Conference with Community and Disability Services Ministers’ Conference – Melbourne

The Housing Ministers and Community and Disability Services Ministers met in Melbourne today.

These two groups of Ministers have come together to progress national objectives and service delivery.

The Ministers discussed how different jurisdictions and portfolios could work together to achieve better service delivery and outcomes for vulnerable people across the country.


National homelessness agenda

Homelessness is not just about providing a house but also involves a broader set of integrated services that includes mental health, drug and alcohol, education, training and employment initiatives.

Today Ministers considered opportunities to work together to improve the national response to homelessness.

Ministers agreed to further identify areas where portfolios and jurisdictions can work closer together. Ministers identified supporting transitions from care and custodial settings as a key priority.

A program of joint work will be developed by officials representing the Community and Disability Services Ministers’ Advisory Council and the Housing Ministers’ Advisory Committee for agreement by the end of April 2011.

Ministers agreed to work with other Ministerial Councils to develop a program of joint work to find better outcomes for vulnerable people focusing on those exiting justice and mental health facilities, leaving out of home care and youth disengaged from the education system.

Service Integration

Ministers agreed that service integration is critical to reducing homelessness.

Ministers discussed potential service integration opportunities and agreed to develop a report assessing progress in integrating services to address homelessness.

The Australian, State and Territory Governments have committed to improving integration of service co-ordination and integration of homelessness services with mainstream services.

Homelessness National Quality Framework & Workforce Development

Housing Ministers are developing a National Quality Framework and a National Workforce Development Strategy to improve the quality of professional service organisations that work with people dealing with homelessness.

Ministers discussed the significant overlap of clients and services across jurisdictions and portfolios. They identified the need to better coordinate policy development and service delivery to remove duplication and ensure people have access to streamlined services.

Ministers agreed representatives from each responsible Government Department would participate in consultations regarding this issue. These consultations will be led by Housing officials next year.

Specialist homelessness service data collection

Ministers noted progress on the development of a specialist homelessness services data collection. The collection of this data will commence in mid 2011 and will provide valuable information about the lives of homeless people.

Prime Ministers Council on Homelessness

The Ministers received an update on the Council’s work from Chairperson Tony Nicholson. He stressed the importance of prevention and early intervention, service integration and participation of the homeless in social and economic life.  He also updated Ministers on key issues, including rough sleeping, youth homelessness and social housing.


Australian Housing & Urban Research Institute (AHURI)

Ministers received a briefing from Dr Ian Winter, Executive Director of AHURI, on the cost and benefits of early intervention and prevention for people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness and the intergenerational nature of homelessness.

National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children

Transitioning from out of home care to independence

Ministers agreed to work together on issues surrounding transitions from care into sustainable housing. This was identified as a key area where portfolios and jurisdictions can work more closely together.


National Disability Strategy

Ministers discussed the National Disability Strategy and the importance of strong links between housing and disability services.  Housing Ministers agreed to appoint Minister Karen Struthers to the role of disability champion to progress future housing actions within the National Disability