Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Government’s record investment in homelessness helping to meet demand: AIHW Report

Joint Media Release with:

  • Senator Mark Arbib, Minister for Social Housing and Homelessness
    Minister for Indigenous Employment and Economic Development
    Minister for Sport

The Australian Government’s record investment to support people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness is helping to address the demand for services, a report released today confirms.

Minister for Housing Jenny Macklin and Minister for Social Housing and Homelessness Mark Arbib said the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report showed an additional 10,600 people who were homeless or at risk of homelessness were supported in the last financial year.

“The report shows that in the last financial year an estimated 230,500 Australians were assisted through Specialist Homelessness Services, compared to 219,900 in 2009-10,” Ms Macklin said.

“The report also notes that the increase does not necessarily indicate an increase in the number of Australians who are homeless, but that increased funding for services and the scope of government programs are likely contributors to the access to services.

“I’m pleased to see the Government’s investment in early intervention and in more social housing is showing positive results with the proportion of people seeking accommodation decreasing from 38.2 per cent in 2006-07 to 27.3 per cent in the last financial year.”

Other key findings from the report include:

  • In the past year, clients with longer support periods generally had more positive outcomes in terms of income, employment and housing than the previous year.
  • There has been a decrease in people under 25 years as a proportion of all clients. Although females aged 15-19 years were the highest represented group, the rate was down slightly in 2010-11 compared to 2007-08.

“Homelessness is a complex and serious issue and the Australian Government is committed to addressing the problem,” Senator Arbib said.

“Through our long term plan, this Government has committed to halving the rate of homelessness and offering supported accommodation to all rough sleepers who seek it by 2020.

“To reach this goal we are working with state and territory governments to invest $1.1 billion over five years to the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness to deliver new and improved support services and accommodation to homeless people across Australia.

“This is reflected in the increase of almost 12 per cent in funding to specialist homelessness services in 2010-2011, as outlined in the AIWH report.

“Another way the Government is helping vulnerable Australians is through the $5.6 billion Social Housing Initiative which is designed to assist low income Australians who are homeless or struggling in the private rental market.

“Under the Social Housing Initiative, around 19,600 homes are being constructed across the nation. These homes are due for completion by June 2012 and more than 16,600 of these have already been completed.”

The next measurement of homelessness is through the Census and the new Specialist Homelessness Services Collection data which will be published next year.

Ms Macklin said while the Government was making significant progress supporting vulnerable Australians there was always more to be done.

“The Government’s new Specialist Homelessness Services Collection began in July and provides improved data on people accessing services. The new collection focuses more on clients rather than just support periods,” Ms Macklin said.

“For the first time accompanying children are counted as clients in their own right which means they will receive more appropriate services for their circumstances.”