Media Release by Senator the Hon Mark Arbib

Government Homelessness services reaching more people in need

The Australian Government’s record investment in services and support for people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness is making a significant impact, reaching more people in need.

Minister for Social Housing and Homelessness Mark Arbib said a new Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report showed that Australian Government-funded specialist homelessness services were providing more support to homeless people than in previous years.

“The Australian Government’s almost $5 billion investment in homeless services and support is the largest amount of funding committed in Australian history,” Senator Arbib said.

“Australian Government funding is providing better services, including better early intervention services and crisis support. The total number of people supported rose by seven per cent in 2009-10 to 219,900.

“It also found there had been an increase in the rate of use of specialist homelessness services to 100 people per 10,000, compared to 95 in 2008-09 and 96 in 2007-08.

Key findings of the report include:

  • The main reason for seeking homelessness support continues to be relationship issues such as domestic violence or family breakdown;
  • Young people aged 15-19 continued to be the largest group, at just over 17 per cent of clients; and
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continued to be over-presented, making up 18 per cent of clients.

“Importantly, the report also showed an increase of almost 10 per cent in funding to specialist homelessness services in 2009-10 under the National Affordable Housing Agreement and an increase in the number of specialist homelessness services.

“This is in addition to the $1.1 billion National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness which comprises joint Commonwealth and state and territory funding to boost services and support for people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

“As noted in the White Paper, the use of homelessness services is rising because more support services are being funded and governments and the sector are working to increase the outreach to people who are homeless.”

Senator Arbib said the government remained committed to halving the rate of homelessness and offering accommodation to all rough sleepers who seek it by 2020.

“The new Specialist Homelessness Services Collection, which will be available from 1 July 2011, will be a key source of data for measuring progress, to know where we are, and where we will be in achieving our homelessness targets,” Senator Arbib said.

“On the last estimate, there were more than 100,000 people who were homeless on any one night – which is a shocking statistic and it means that Governments, businesses, and communities need to work strongly together to seriously address homelessness.

“In a country with an economy as strong as ours, it is deeply concerning that there are so many people without a home.

“The Government remains committed to continuing our support for the many organisations which are helping to address homelessness.”

The statistics are contained in the AIHW report: Government-funded specialist homelessness services: SAAP National Data Collection annual report 2009-10.