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Media Release by The Hon Tanya Pibersek MP

Help at hand for homeless Australians with a mental illness

Joint Media Release with:

  • The Hon Kevin Rudd MP, Prime Minister
  • The Hon Jenny Macklin MP, Minister for Families Housing Community Services and Indigenous Affairs

The Australian Government today unveiled details of a $10 million boost to the Personal Helpers and Mentors (PHaMs) program, to give homeless Australians with a severe mental illness greater access to one-on-one support.

Six new services will be established in communities with significant homeless populations in New South Wales, South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia to help people with a mental illness who are homeless, or at risk of homelessness.

In addition, six new dedicated homelessness workers will be shared among four existing PHaMs sites in Victoria and Queensland to work solely with homeless clients in these areas.

In total, 36 additional personal mentors will be on the ground by mid 2010 to provide intensive assistance to homeless Australians with a severe mental illness.

PHaMs is designed to help people with a severe mental illness reconnect with the wider community and live more independent and satisfying lives.

Personal mentors work one-on-one with participants with practical help to achieve their personal goals – for example, finding stable housing, or improving relationships with family and friends.

These new personal mentors will also connect participants with essential clinical and social services, including housing services and health professionals.

The initiative forms part of the Australian Government’s efforts to halve homelessness and offer accommodation to all rough sleepers who seek it by 2020.

The Australian Government is absolutely committed to reducing homelessness and has already:

  • Made a 55 per cent increase in investment in homelessness and a substantial down payment on a twelve year reform agenda;
  • Purchased or built 107 additional homes for homeless families under A Place to Call Home, with 750 dwellings to be purchased or built by June 2013;
  • Completed 59,000 renovations to public housing dwellings through the Nation Building Economic Stimulus Plan;
  • Commenced construction on over 8,000 new social housing dwellings across the country through the National Economic Stimulus Plan, with more than 500 completed; and
  • Funded 40 new specialist homelessness projects across our housing programs.

New PHaMs services targeting the homeless or those at risk of homelessness:

Service location Funding (2009 to 2012)
Riverland, SA $1,463,100
Mildura, VIC $1,463,100
Greater Dandenong, VIC $1,321,400
Greater Hobart, TAS* $1,321,400
Bankstown, Canada Bay, Ashfield and Leichhardt, NSW* $1,321,400
Bunbury and Vasse, WA* $1,463,100
Total $8,353,500

* also targeting recent humanitarian entrants and Indigenous Australians

Existing PHaMs sites to receive additional funding for dedicated homelessness workers:

Site Additional funding (2009 to 2012)
Melbourne Inner West, VIC $ 396,420
Mackay, QLD $ 438,930
Rockhampton, QLD $ 438,930
Inner Brisbane, QLD $ 396,420
Total $ 1,670,700