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Media Release by Senator the Hon Amanda Vanstone

New pilot program preventing family homelessness

Today’s announcement outlines the detail of a new $5 million family homelessness pilot program that will help up to 1000 families over the next three years.

The Family Homelessness Prevention Pilot (FHPP) will run in every State and Territory, and help provide a better understanding of the range of factors that can lead to families becoming homeless.

We know that homelessness doesn’t happen overnight – it is an unfortunate fact that many families in the community do experience a downward spiral before they become homeless.

Families at risk of homelessness tend to have high personal debt, rely on emergency relief assistance and often move from place to place. These sorts of factors can be a good indicator that a family is under stress and needs help.

The pilots will test ways of identifying and helping families across Australia so that they can regain stability in their home lives and achieve greater participation in work and community life.

Centrelink and local community agencies will play a key part by identifying families at risk who will have access to free family counselling, and other community and housing support services through the pilot program.

The locations for the pilot were selected with the assistance of Centrelink, the Australian Federation of Homelessness Organisations (AFHO) and State and Territory Governments.

All of the pilot services will run in areas identified as containing families in high need of assistance, with the aim of helping out families most at risk of homelessness.

The Family Homelessness Prevention Pilot will be trialed in Wyong (NSW), Dandenong (VIC), Beenleigh (QLD), Salisbury (SA), Mandurah (WA), Launceston (TAS), Darwin (NT), West Belconnen (ACT). Details are provided in the attachment.

The Howard Government is committed to preventing the very damaging consequences of homelessness, to ensure that all families have the fundamental stability that is provided by a secure home environment.

Advertisements will appear in local papers in February 2002, allowing interested community organisations to apply to participate in the pilot program.

South Australia

Salisbury, located in South Australia, has been chosen as the host site for one of eight Family Homelessness Prevention Pilot Projects to be established around Australia.

Salisbury has been identified as a particularly vulnerable community. It has a large proportion of households on low incomes (unemployment averages around 10%), a high concentration of people with low educational attainment and an unskilled workforce.

The Salisbury community has a high Indigenous population that is particularly disadvantaged in all of the above measures and will therefore be trialing a project aimed at preventing Indigenous families from becoming homeless.

New South Wales

Wyong, located in New South Wales, has been chosen as the host site for one of eight Family Homelessness Prevention Pilot Projects to be established around Australia.

Wyong has been identified as a vulnerable community with high family disadvantage.

It is a rapidly growing area with Sydney commuters settling in the area and forcing the housing prices up thereby making the housing less affordable. The NSW Dept of Housing statistics indicate that families are paying above 50% of their income for private rental and there is a 10 year waiting list for public housing.

The Wyong area has an unemployment level of 11%, a high demand for emergency accommodation and high levels of family stress, interpersonal violence, child abuse and crime.

Victoria

Dandenong, located in Victoria has been chosen as the host site for one of eight Family Homelessness Prevention Pilot Projects to be established around Australia.

Dandenong is a fast growing region that has been identified by Centrelink as an area of high customer need and is considered by the FaCS State Office to be one of the top 10 communities of disadvantage in Victoria.

It has an unemployment rate of 9.27%.

Queensland

Beenleigh, located in Queensland, has been chosen as the host site for one of eight Family Homelessness Prevention Pilot Projects to be established around Australia.

It is part of Queensland’s second largest and fourth fastest growing region, Gold Coast City.
Beenleigh has been identified as a vulnerable community with high family disadvantage, particularly in the area of employment.

Beenleigh has a large proportion of sole parent families (33.4%), low-income households (56%) and has an unemployment rate of 17.1% (youth unemployment 25.9%).
Over one third (44.1%) of Beenleigh’s residents are receiving some form of income support.

Western Australia

Mandurah, located in Western Australia, has been chosen as the host site for one of eight Family Homelessness Prevention Pilot Projects to be established around Australia.

Mandurah is one of the fastest growth areas in Western Australia with support services not being able to keep pace with the demand. It has high levels of housing difficulties, unemployment and poverty. It also has a significant population of disadvantaged Indigenous families living in the area.

Tasmania

Launceston, located in Tasmania, has been chosen as the host site for one of eight Family Homelessness Prevention Pilot Projects to be established around Australia.

Launceston has been identified as a vulnerable community, particularly in the area of employment. Unemployment across Launceston is in keeping with the Tasmanian average of around 11%, but some are pockets are significantly higher (20%-30%).

The average number of rented dwellings in Launceston is higher than both the state and national level and the number of one-parent families living in some suburbs is substantially higher (25%-39%) than the national average (16.4%).

Northern Territory

Darwin / Palmerston area, located in the Northern Territory has been chosen as the host site for one of eight Family Homelessness Prevention Pilot Projects to be established around Australia.

Darwin / Palmerston is the only Northern Territory area thought to have the range of services and infrastructure necessary to support a pilot project of this nature, including the capacity of the local Centrelink Area Office.

The Darwin, Palmerston and Darwin rural area is home to 53% of the total population of the Northern Territory.
Darwin has a population of disadvantaged Indigenous families that is significantly higher than other capital cities.

Australian Capital Territory

Belconnen, located in the ACT, has been chosen as the host site for one of eight Family Homelessness Prevention Pilot Projects to be established around Australia.

Belconnen has been identified as a vulnerable community of high need and has one of the lowest Socio-Economic ratings for the ACT region.

Local service providers, Lifeline’s Gambling Counselling Service, CARE’s debt/credit services and Canberra One Parent Support’ Service support this finding with a high number of their clients residing in the Belconnen area.