Media Release by Senator the Hon Mark Arbib

New homelessness data collection succesfully introduced

Minister for Social Housing and Homelessness Mark Arbib today visited Neami, an organisation providing housing and support services to people with mental illness, to mark the successful introduction of new Specialist Homelessness Services data collection.

Senator Arbib said Neami was one of 1500 homelessness services which would contribute data to provide more accurate information on homelessness around Australia.

The Commonwealth, in conjunction with the States and Territories, commissioned and funded the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) to develop the new system and the number of services using it is expected to grow over time.

“The new system means we’ll be able to better understand the causes of homelessness and see how individual clients move in and out of the homelessness ‘system’,” Senator Arbib said.

“It is vital that we have reliable and accurate information to guide us as we tackle homelessness issues.

“The complexity of homelessness means it is difficult to ascertain exactly how many people are affected by homelessness. Much homelessness is “hidden” particularly among young people and families.

“The new system means, for example, we will be able to count for the first time how many homeless children are assisted.”

According to the Counting the Homelessness report, 27,374 New South Wales people were homeless on census night 2006.

“I recognise the significant effort of the AIHW who have worked tirelessly building a strong partnership with all states and territories in boosting national reporting for homelessness. 

“I also commend the sector and State and Territory Governments for working collaboratively with AIHW in this major change process and for their close involvement in training and promotion of the new data collection to homelessness services. 

“I am pleased to hear that the feedback on the new system received from the sector has been very positive.”

Neami is supported by the Australian and NSW Governments through its Way2 Home and Aboriginal Assertive Outreach initiative under the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness.

This $5.6 million joint initiative aims to help rough sleepers transition into housing, providing them with multiple and appropriate support to sustain their tenancies and help reduce repeat homelessness.

The Government remains strongly committed to its ambitious targets of halving the rate of homelessness by 2020 and to providing support accommodation to all rough sleepers who seek it.