Media Release by The Hon John Cobb MP

Census 2006 – Counting the Homeless

The Minister for Community Services, John Cobb, today used National Homelessness Week as a timely reminder of the importance of maintaining accurate details on the incidence of homelessness which can ultimately help in preventing homelessness.

‘As part of the 2006 Census, the Australian Government, together with the States and Territories, have funded a comprehensive analysis of the Census data collected on homeless Australians,’ Mr Cobb said

‘Census details of homeless people will be collected through the use of specially trained collectors, refuge and homelessness shelter staff and a range of targeted strategies that utilise local knowledge.

‘Accurate information is needed in order to measure the scope and extent of homelessness and next week’s Census marks the beginning of an important project which will assist this work.

‘This research will provide up-to-date information, allowing us to better tailor programs and policy responses to homelessness.

‘The project also includes a special count of homeless school children and separates state and territory information, assisting with the development of localised programs.

‘The Australian Government views homelessness as a very serious issue and works closely with the community sector and States and Territories to continually improve services and establish ways to assist homeless people to break the cycle,’ Mr Cobb said.

‘Approximately $932 million in Australian Government funding will be contributed over five years to the Supported Accommodation Assistance Program (SAAP), responding to the needs of homeless people and those at risk of homelessness.

‘In addition, the Australian Government delivers significant funding through a range of programs addressing homelessness including the $10.4 million over 4 years HOME Advice Program, the $10 million over 4 years National Homelessness Strategy, $22.7 million each year over 4 years Reconnect program, and $7.01 million each year on YouthLinx,’ Mr Cobb said.

National Homelessness Week runs from 31 July to 6 August 2006 and Census night will be held on 8 August 2006.