Media Release by The Hon Tanya Pibersek MP

Government Announces Inquiry into Homelessness Legislation

Tanya Plibersek today announced that the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Family, Community, Housing and Youth will hold an inquiry into homelessness legislation.

The announcement follows the Rudd Government’s Homelessness White Paper – which provides an additional $1.2 billion over four years as a down payment on a 12 year reform agenda to halve homelessness by 2020.

A further $6.4 billion from the Nation Building Economic Stimulus Plan will deliver 20,000 new social housing dwellings to help achieve this target.

The White Paper noted the Government’s intention to introduce new legislation to replace the Supported Accommodation Assistance Act 1994.

“The Rudd Government has made addressing homelessness a national priority and the White Paper delivers an additional $1.2 billion over four years for homelessness services,” Ms Plibersek said.

“Improved legislation will help deliver consistent national standards, ensuring people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness receive quality services and adequate support to meet their needs.

“The White Paper noted that while the SAAP Act sets out important principles that have guided the response to homelessness since 1985, the national focus on homelessness provides a good opportunity to strengthen this legislation.

“I have asked that the Committee give particular consideration to the principles which should underpin services for Australians who are homeless or at risk of homelessness and the role legislation could play in improving services.

“The ABS estimates that on any given night, there are 105,000 homeless people in Australia. Reducing homelessness will take a sustained effort by all levels of government, business, charities and the community.

“Australians experiencing homelessness face a greater risk of physical and mental problems than their peers. We cannot allow these vulnerable Australians to miss out on quality services and support when they need it most. I urge interested parties to make thoughtful submissions to the inquiry.”

The Committee will report by December 2009 to allow consideration of outcomes of the Australian Government’s National Human Rights Consultation, which is due to report at the end of August.

Submissions addressing the terms of reference are being sought by the committee by Friday 14 August 2009. Terms of reference and Committee guidance for making submissions can be found at: Inquiry into homelessness legislation (