Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Australian Government commits to continued help for people in crisis

The Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson today promised ongoing support for people in need of crisis accommodation as the Australian Government committed to negotiate a fifth Supported Accommodation Assistance Program (SAAP) agreement with the states and territories.

In Hobart for the meeting of state and territory Community and Disability Services Ministers, Senator Patterson said a recent national evaluation of SAAP had confirmed the program’s effectiveness in providing crisis accommodation and support for people in crisis.

Senator Patterson said: “SAAP has done very well in addressing the crisis support and accommodation needs of people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, but it is imperative that we now give a greater focus to early intervention to prevent more people needing to use the program’s services.

“The Australian Government will continue to work with the State and Territory governments in providing services for people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness because they are one of the most marginalised group in our society.”

SAAP is a jointly funded agreement between the Australian Government and the States and Territories, which has operated since 1985. The performance of SAAP IV was assessed by the recently finalised national evaluation of the fourth SAAP agreement.

The Australian Government is providing $833 million of the $1.45 billion funding package for SAAP during the life of the 2000 – 2005 program.

During 2002-03, SAAP assisted 97,600 individuals (representing more than one million distinct services to SAAP clients) through 1282 agencies around Australia.

A national survey has shown that the majority of SAAP clients are satisfied with all of the services provided. SAAP has moved 72% of people seeking assistance into independent housing. In addition, 93% of people seeking assistance received the services they needed.

“I believe the SAAP IV evaluation was comprehensive and I am pleased with its outcomes. The evaluation has convinced me that SAAP is a program worthy of continued Australian Government support so today I am committing to a further agreement,” Senator Patterson said.

“A greater focus on early intervention and delivering better co-ordinated services will help people without stable long term accommodation get back on their feet. We also need to focus on ongoing assistance to ensure stability for people who are making the transition from a crisis situation.”