Media Release by The Hon Tanya Pibersek MP

Rudd Government rolls out increased Centrelink support for the homeless

Joint Media Release with:

  • Chris Bowen MP, Minister for Human Services

Tanya Plibersek and Minister for Human Services, Chris Bowen today announced that Centrelink Community Engagement Officers are now able to provide increased support for homeless Australians.

Establishment of Centrelink’s Community Engagement Officers delivers on another commitment from the Australian Government’s White Paper on Homelessness.

This program will see 90 specialist Centrelink staff, located across all capital cities and many regional centres, supporting some of the most vulnerable people in our community.

This means homeless Australians, and those at risk of homelessness, have better access to income support and the many other services available through Centrelink.

Community Engagement Officers will work with non-government organisations like drug and alcohol rehabilitation services, mental health services, hostels, boarding houses, refuges and drop in centres.

Ms Plibersek said the CEOs will identify and support homeless people and those at risk, helping them access the right Centrelink support more quickly.

“These CEOs will help individuals and families break the cycle of homelessness. The Rudd Government has worked hard over the last 18 months with all levels of government and the community sector to implement measures to help reduce homelessness,” Ms Plibersek said.

“Focussing on prevention reduces the number of people who will experience homelessness. Assisting homeless Australians to access the full range of Centrelink services will help them end their homelessness sooner.”

Mr Bowen said Community Engagement Officers will provide outreach services to agencies which support homeless and at-risk customers, such as rehabilitation centres, psychiatric hospitals, prisons, boarding houses and organised meeting places.

“Centrelink is a key ‘first to know’ agency and is well placed to identify people who are at risk of homelessness. These officers are trained to work with homeless Australians, who can have difficulties accessing information and all the available support services they need,” Mr Bowen said.

“The CEOs will be placed in locations of highest need and all Centrelink staff will receive homelessness awareness training to improve and tailor the service they provide to this group.

“They will work with community organisations assisting them to better understand their clients’ obligations and entitlements.”

The Rudd Government’s Homelessness White Paper contains ambitious targets to halve homelessness in Australia and offer accommodation to all rough sleepers who seek it by 2020.

The Australian Government has invested more than $7 billion to tackle homelessness in Australia since coming to office.