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Media Release by The Hon Brendan O’Connor MP

Significant progress made in helping vulnerable Australians

Minister for Housing and Homelessness Brendan O’Connor today welcomed new research showing real and substantial progress has been made in helping vulnerable Australians access homelessness services.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Specialist Homelessness Services 2011–12 report found an 18 per cent increase in the number of people who received support from specialist homelessness agencies between 2010–11 and 2011–12.

The report also found an increase in the number of agencies providing support, reflecting increased investment.

Almost 230,000 vulnerable people received support from 1,478 agencies in 2011–12, compared with just under 194,000 clients and 1,268 agencies the previous year.

On average, about 19,000 people were accommodated each night in specialist homelessness services accommodation for an average of 82 nights per client.

“Federal Labor made tackling homelessness and making homes more affordable national priorities,” Mr O’Connor said.

“Since coming to office, we have invested an unprecedented $20 billion in housing and homelessness services, including our $1.1 billion homelessness partnership with the States and Territories.

“This rise in people receiving support shows the value of this investment.”

The research shows that domestic and family violence remains a major cause of homelessness, with the most common reasons for seeking assistance being domestic and family violence, financial difficulties, and housing crisis.

Children, young people and Indigenous Australians were most likely to seek help from homelessness services, and one in five people seeking help had a mental health issue.

The Specialist Homelessness Services Collection is a new way of collecting data that will provide a better understanding of homelessness in Australia.

“The new collection will provide a clearer picture of clients and how their circumstances change over the course of their support, rather than tallying the number of services provided,” Mr O’Connor said.

“We remain committed to halving the rate of homelessness by 2020. Without a secure home, people struggle to find and keep jobs or stay in training or education, or to keep their kids in school.

“There is still unmet demand, particularly for accommodation, and we know we have more work to do.

“That’s why we are continuing to forge strong partnerships with the State and Territory governments, as well as the community and private sectors.

“Last month the Australian and State and Territory governments agreed to enter into negotiations for a new partnership to continue our work together to tackle homelessness.

“With the current agreement due to expire this financial year, the Gillard Government has committed to a further year of funding for service delivery, with the expectation the States and Territories will match funding.

“We believe all Australians deserve a safe, secure home, and we will continue to work to provide affordable housing for Australia’s most vulnerable people.”