Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

States and Territories agree to SAAP V three month extension

All Australian States and Territories have now accepted the Howard Government’s offer of an extension of the current Supported Accommodation Assistance Program (SAAP IV), for a further three months to guarantee funding for the sector.

The Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, today welcomed the decision by the States and Territories to accept the offer to extend the SAAP IV Agreement until 30 September 2005. The extension will provide time for negotiations around the new SAAP V agreement to be finalised and will provide funding assurance for the SAAP sector.

“This positive step by the State and Territory Governments ensures that there can be continued progress towards improving the program’s effectiveness in providing crisis accommodation and support, through a new SAAP Agreement,” Senator Patterson said.

“The Howard Government currently provides the majority of the total funding for the program and would like to see all States and Territories increase their contributions to address the plight of homeless people throughout Australia.

“I proposed the extension of the current Agreement because I do not want the SAAP sector to be disadvantaged by the State and Territory Governments’ decision to reject the original funding offer for SAAP V.

“The extension will continue separately to any decision made by State and Territory Governments regarding the next SAAP V Agreement.

“The issue of homelessness is a serious one and it is vital that the State and Territory Governments work in partnership with the Howard Government to provide services for marginalised people who are homeless, or at risk of homelessness.

“The Howard Government looks forward to the continued cooperation of the States and Territories as negotiations around a new SAAP Agreement progress.

“All levels of government can now focus on achieving sign off on the SAAP V Multilateral Agreement by 30 September 2005,” Senator Patterson said.