Media Release by Senator the Hon Amanda Vanstone

Focus on Homeless Families

Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Amanda Vanstone said the Government would spend $5 million dollars on a number of pilot programs to look at ways to best address the problem of families becoming homeless.

“These pilot programs will identify effective ways of recognising families at risk of homelessness and provide early assistance to prevent homelessness from occurring,” Senator Vanstone said.

“Approximately 1,000 families in 9 areas around Australia, will be helped to regain stability in their housing and finances, and to access community services, labour market programs and employment.

“Homelessness is usually associated with individuals suffering from drug and alcohol problems or women escaping from domestic violence. Not many people realise that whole families, including the children, can also become homeless.

“This initiative is about providing solutions before these families reach crisis point. While it still remains the great Australian dream to own your own home, some families face the prospect of having no home at all.”

“As a first step, Centrelink will further develop its existing database to identify families at risk of homelessness. For example, the database will highlight frequent changes of address as research indicates family homelessness is often precipitated by an extraordinary high level of mobility. Other indicators will include debt patterns and frequent requests for emergency relief or advance payments.

“Families identified by Centrelink through this process will be asked if they would like to be referred to non-government agencies who would offer a range of assistance.

“The non-government agencies will be funded to stabilise the families’ housing, assist with financial issues, and link them to appropriate community supports and services.