Statement by The Hon Brendan O’Connor MP

COAG Select Council on Housing and Homelessness – 16 November 2012 meeting Communiqué

The COAG Select Council on Housing and Homelessness met on 16 November 2012, in Brisbane.

Ministers made an ongoing commitment to work together to address homelessness in Australia, and to three overarching strategies: prevention, early intervention and breaking the cycle of homelessness.

Ministers agreed that, subject to their Cabinet processes, they would enter into negotiations for a new National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness, and while that Agreement is being negotiated to work on a one year transition partnership agreement for 2013-14.

Negotiations will be progressed by officials, and reported back at the next Ministerial Council meeting.

National Partnership Agreements

Commonwealth, State and Territory Ministers discussed progress under the National Partnership Agreements overseen by the Council.

Ministers were pleased to note that as at 30 September 2012, the Nation Building Jobs Plan – Social Housing Initiative had delivered 19,100 dwellings, well above the original target of 17,460. The program will deliver around 19,700 dwellings in total. At 30 September, the National Partnership Agreement on Social Housing had completed almost 97 per cent of the 1,950 dwellings and Ministers noted that jurisdictions are working to complete their final projects.

The Council was also pleased to note that the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing is continuing to progress well, with a number of jurisdictions exceeding both the new housing and refurbishment targets. As at 31 August 2012, 1,440 new houses, and 4,830 refurbishments had been delivered.

Under the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness (NPAH) a total of 231 new or expanded initiatives were being delivered in 2011-12. Ministers noted that 500 dwellings had been completed at 30 June 2012 under A Place to Call Home.  This is a joint initiative by the Australian and State and Territory Governments to build 600 new supported homes for individuals and families experiencing homelessness.

Ministers noted the release of Australian Bureau of Statistics data on homelessness and progress in addressing the number of rough sleepers which decreased from 7,247 in 2006 to 6,813. The rate of rough sleeping declined from 3.7 to 3.2 (13.5 per cent decrease).  Indigenous homelessness has fallen 14.5 per cent.

The Ministers reconfirmed the need for continuing collaborative effort in addressing homelessness.

The NPAH has been in operation for four years, and is due to expire on 30 June 2013. Ministers reaffirmed the importance of developing a strong evidence base for future policy priorities to ensure homelessness strategies are effectively targeted to achieve the best outcomes.

National Affordable Housing Agreement (NAHA) reforms

The Council resumed discussions on the progress of the twenty-five major housing and homelessness reform tasks under the NAHA:

  • Planning and Supply
  • Innovation and the delivery of social housing
  • Integration of waiting lists

Discussions were had on the longstanding NAHA reform commitments to a National Regulatory System for providers of community housing, and a National Quality Framework for providers of homelessness services.

Ministers also noted possible changes to the NAHA including:

  • Consideration of a draft structural framework for the delivery of an appropriate and sustainable social and affordable housing system; and
  • Options available to increase private sector investment in affordable rental housing.

Ministers will meet again in early 2013.