Media Release by The Hon Brendan O’Connor MP

COAG Select Council on Housing and Homelessness – 31 August 2012 meeting Communiqué

The COAG Select Council on Housing and Homelessness met on 31 August in Perth, Western Australia. In April 2012, the remit of the (then) Select Council on Homelessness was expanded to provide an integrated and holistic approach to the related policy areas of housing supply, social and affordable housing and homelessness. This was the first meeting of the Council under its new Ministerial Council arrangements.

National Partnership Agreements

Commonwealth, State and Territory Ministers discussed the progress that has been made under the four National Partnership Agreements overseen by the Council including the: Nation Building Jobs Plan – Social Housing Initiative; National Partnership Agreement on Social Housing (NPASH); National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness (NPAH); and National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing (NPARIH).

The Council was pleased to note that the National Partnerships have now delivered more than 22,000 dwellings.  The Social Housing Initiative is expected to deliver over 19,700 dwellings.  As at 31 July 2012, the program has delivered almost 18,900 dwellings, well above the original target of 17,460. The National Partnership Agreement on Social Housing will deliver around 1,950 dwellings, and as of 31 July 2012, 94 per cent of dwellings have been completed.

The NPAH has seen jurisdictions implement over 180 new or expanded initiatives in order to reduce homelessness. With the NPAH currently scheduled to end in June 2013, Ministers noted the importance of developing the evidence base that will be critical to inform future policies to address homelessness.  Ministers noted the importance of ongoing investment in this area.

Ministers were pleased to note that the NPARIH has progressed well, with all jurisdictions having met or exceeded their new housing and refurbishments targets for the second consecutive year.  As at 30 June 2012, the program has delivered more than 1,400 new houses and more than 4,700 rebuilt or refurbished houses.

National Affordable Housing Agreement (NAHA)

Ministers continued their strategic discussion on the NAHA, reflecting on achievements that have been delivered under the NAHA, and considered opportunities and priorities for the future.  Ministers decided to write to the Standing Council on Federal Financial Relations indicating their interest in providing input into the review of the NAHA.

National Rental Affordability Scheme

The National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS) is a long term commitment by the Commonwealth Government in partnership with State and Territory Governments, to invest in 50,000 affordable rental houses. NRAS offers financial incentives to the business sector and community organisations to build and rent dwellings to low and moderate income households at reduced rents.  As at 31 July 2012 9,289 homes have been delivered through the scheme and are currently available or being rented to low and moderate households at rents that are at least 20 per cent below the prevailing market rates. In addition, developers and investors have received approval from governments to build a further 31,261 houses. Ministers agreed to an ongoing focus to delivering outcomes against current allocations.

Community Housing – National Regulatory System 

The National Regulatory System for providers of Community Housing is being developed to ensure there is a uniform national approach to the regulation of this important sector of the social housing system.  National regulation will ensure community housing organisations only have to comply with a single set of regulations and can operate across jurisdictions while dealing with a single Registrar. This national approach will facilitate further investment in this sector to increase the supply of affordable homes.

Ministers welcomed a further step in the development of the National Regulatory System with the passage by the New South Wales Parliament of the Community Housing (Adoption of National Law) Act 2012, which provides the uniform template legislation  for the National Regulatory System.

Community Housing – Industry Development Framework

Ministers considered further work on the National Industry Development Framework for Community Housing, a key reform direction under the NAHA. The Framework will outline the skills and settings required to position the community housing sector to play an expanded role in the future of social housing.  The Framework prioritises key areas of development that are critical to a strong community housing industry namely: governance, risk management and strategic planning; construction and development; finance; and regulation.  The Framework has been designed to provide guidance for states and territories to apply as appropriate to their local contexts.

Homelessness National Quality Framework

Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments are continuing to work together to develop a Homelessness National Quality Framework, which is aimed at achieving consistent quality outcomes for people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness regardless of where they are in Australia. The Framework will also help ensure the quality and integration of services – both mainstream and specialised. Ministers considered a number of key elements of the National Quality Framework and agreed to consider the issue further at their next meeting. Ministers reinforced the critical role of mainstream services, as well as specialist services in delivering quality outcomes to people experiencing homelessness.

National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children

Ministers welcomed the adoption of the Second Action Plan for the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children by the COAG Standing Council on Community and Disability Services on 17 August 2012.  Members noted that housing for young people leaving care is a key area under the Second Action Plan, and agreed that officials will provide input to the Second Action Plan in relation to these actions.