Media Release by The Hon Brendan O’Connor MP

Gillard Government commits to continuing homelessness funding

Federal Minister for Housing and Homelessness Brendan O’Connor today announced that the Gillard Government will approach the States and Territories to negotiate a new homelessness partnership.

Mr O’Connor said the new agreement would be based on matched funding and framed by the core principles of prevention, early intervention and breaking the cycle of homelessness.

“The Agreement should improve transparency and ensure we can measure the effectiveness of Government action,” Mr O’Connor told the National Press Club.

“To provide certainty during these negotiations for the tireless and compassionate workers in this sector, and, most importantly, for their clients, we commit today to providing our half of the funding for next financial year while we finalise a longer term agreement.

“I call upon the States and Territories to immediately match funding for the next financial year and to sit down and negotiate a longer term compact to be resolved next year.”

Since 2009, more than 180 services and initiatives for homeless and vulnerable Australians have been funded under the $1.1 billion National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness.

The Agreement expires on 30 June 2013. As yet no State or Territory Government has committed itself to continuing funding.

State and Territory Ministers will meet this Friday in Brisbane for the second last meeting before the Agreement expires. Only Queensland, South Australia, Victoria, and the Australian Capital Territory, however, have committed to sending a Minister to this week’s meeting.

Mr O’Connor urged his counterparts to take the negotiations seriously.

“The cost to the States and Territories of inaction is too great. The cost of more people churning through emergency departments, correctional and mental health facilities far outweighs the costs associated with prevention, early intervention, and breaking the cycle measures,” Mr O’Connor said.

“Although the Gillard Government is committed to an interim agreement during the negotiation period, I have formed the view that the current agreement won’t just be rolled over.

“I will be insisting on more specific tenancy advice and support being included.

“I understand that these negotiations will be tough. They should be robust. I look forward to working with the States and Territories and the sector to build on what we have learnt to date.”