Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Report confirms Howard Government helping the homeless

The Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, today welcomed the findings of a new report released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, which confirmed that the Howard Government’s major contribution to the SAAP program is providing effective assistance to homeless Australians.

‘The report, Demand for SAAP Assistance by Homeless People 2002-03 shows that the Government’s Supported Accommodation Assistance Program (SAAP) is helping a large number of Australians who are homeless or at risk of being homeless,’ said Senator Patterson

‘The Institute’s report shows that SAAP is well targeted. The turn-away rate for immediate accommodation remains low at 3% of total demand for SAAP accommodation.

‘The report follows Australian Bureau of Statistics data from the last Census which shows that the national rate for homelessness per 10,000 of the population has dropped from 59 in 1996 to 53 in 2001.

‘The Government takes the problem of homelessness seriously and is combating it in an effective way. We are still concerned, however, about the people who are currently not being assisted and we are working on a number of fronts to find sustainable solutions.

‘The Howard Government has increased SAAP funding by 18% or $115 million and is delivering programs aimed at addressing relationship and family breakdown, such as the Partnerships Against Domestic Violence Initiative, the Stronger Families and Communities Strategies and the Family Relationships Support Program.

‘The Howard Government also provides $40 million to the states to meet capital costs of crisis accommodation and has allocated $80 million for the Reconnect Program over the next four years. Reconnect is an early intervention program for young people who are homeless or at risk of being homeless.

‘As part of the 2004-05 Budget, the Government has also committed $10.4 million in new funding for the Household Organisational Management Expenses (HOME) Advice Program, which is aimed at preventing family homelessness.

‘All of these programs underline the seriousness with which the Howard Government views the issue of homelessness and our commitment to minimise the number of people who are affected,’ said Senator Patterson.