Media Release by The Hon Luke Howarth MP

Australia’s community housing, homelessness and community services

It has been an unprecedented 18 months, and an honour to serve the Australian people as the Assistant Minister for Community Housing, Homelessness and Community Services, supporting Senator the Hon Anne Ruston, Minister for Families and Social Services.

Starting with the Vinnie’s CEO sleep out in Brisbane last year, I have met with stakeholders throughout Australia to learn about the different lived experiences of people experiencing or at risk of homelessness.

I have seen the profound impact community organisations, service providers, charities and the broader sector have in helping Australians through challenging times.

Homelessness is broader than sleeping rough. More than 90 per cent of homeless Australians live in severe overcrowding, supported accommodation, boarding houses, or are couch surfing.

States and territories have primary responsibility for housing and homelessness, and in this position I have prioritised working in partnership with responsible Ministers across the country.

It has been encouraging to see the unprecedented levels of support and cooperation in homelessness services in this past year.

Homelessness is an important issue which affects many Australians. Effectively addressing homelessness requires long-term and systematic effort across governments and the community.

In 2020-21 the Morrison Government will invest $1.6 billion, including around $129 million in dedicated homelessness funding which states and territories are required to match, under the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement to improve housing and homelessness outcomes.

Under the Agreement, children and young people, as well as women and children escaping family and domestic violence are prioritised.

I have worked alongside Minister Ruston to deliver ahead of schedule more than half of our commitment to provide over 100 new social housing dwellings in greater Hobart and announce 40 successful projects as part of the $60 million Safe Places program.

We also continued to deliver in programs like the Government’s $118 million Reconnect program to deliver critical support to vulnerable young people and their families with a focus on early intervention and prevention.

Reconnect providers deliver vital services for the prevention of youth homelessness and promotes engagement with education, training, employment and their community.

During this time, I have also seen the valuable contribution volunteers make to our nation and how volunteering can support pathways to employment.

I would like to thank all the stakeholders in the homelessness, volunteer, and community housing sector who have worked constructively across all governments to improve outcomes for vulnerable Australians and for their contribution to our country, particularly during 2020.

I want to congratulate the Hon Alan Tudge MP on his appointment as Minister for Education and Youth and look forward to working with him and Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash, Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business.

I will continue to listen and work constructively with stakeholders in my new role as Assistant Minister for Youth and Employment Services.

I would also like to thank the people of Petrie for entrusting me as their Federal Member.  I continue to be humbled by the responsibility placed in me by our community. I look forward to this new challenge and the new year ahead.