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Media Release by The Hon Tanya Pibersek MP

New outreach service to help rough sleepers in Sydney

Joint Media Release with:

  • David Borger MP, NSW Minister for Housing

Federal and State Housing Ministers Ms Tanya Plibersek and Mr David Borger today announced a joint Federal, State and Local Government plan to tackle homelessness in the inner city.

Ms Plibersek said the new Inner City Assertive Outreach Service, worth more than $2.34 million per year, forms part of the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness, NSW Homelessness Action Plan and the City of Sydney’s Homelessness Strategy 2007-12.

“Poverty, family breakdown, domestic violence, mental illness, drug and alcohol addiction are some of the underlying and interrelated causes of homelessness,” Ms Plibersek said.

“This initiative aims to address the causes of homelessness by actively providing people with the range of services they require.”

Mr Borger said the service aims to engage all rough sleepers living in the inner city to gain a better understanding of their needs and it will provide support to over 25-percent of these high need clients using a Housing First approach.

“The Housing First approach aims to help rough sleepers transition into housing, providing them with appropriate support to sustain their tenancies and avoid becoming homeless again,” Mr Borger said.

Mr Borger said those living rough had been identified as a priority target group in the Australian and NSW Governments National Partnership on Homelessness Agreement.

“The NSW Homelessness Action Plan aims to reduce the number of people sleeping rough across NSW by 25-percent by 2013.

Mr Borger said the Inner City Assertive Outreach Service is based on models which have been successfully trialled in the United Kingdom and United States of America.

“However, the important thing is that the service model has been developed specifically for the inner city of Sydney targeting the needs of people sleeping rough in this particular area.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Health, Carmel Tebbutt, said that the new assertive outreach will consist of a Health Outreach Team and a general Outreach and Support Team.

“The Health team will provide medical support and support hard to reach clients including those suffering from mental illness and drug and alcohol problems.

Recruitment for the health team is currently underway with the team expected to be up and running in May 2010, Ms Tebbutt said.

Mr Borger said the NSW Government is funding $840,000 per year for the Outreach and Support Team with the City of Sydney contributing $600,000 per year.

Under the National Partnership on Homelessness, the Commonwealth is funding the health component to the tune of $900,000 per year.

The Not for Profit organisation, Neami, was recently selected through a competitive tender process to run and manage the Outreach and Support Team on behalf of Housing NSW and the City of Sydney.

Neami has been operating in communities across Australia for over 23 years, supporting those suffering from a mental illness to live successfully in the community.

“We look forward to working with Neami to help those most in need in the local community,” Mr Borger said.

“This program is an excellent example of the innovation and best practice approaches emerging from the NSW Government’s Homelessness Action Plan.

“It’s great to see all three levels of government and the not-for-profit sector come together to support the most vulnerable in our community to get back on their feet again,” Mr Borger said.