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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 9 Hansard (21 August) . . Page.. 3467..

MS GALLAGHER (continuing):

The social and economic costs experienced by people experiencing homelessness are high. It has a significant impact on an individual's ability to participate in the community and to maintain relationships with friends and family. It can affect an individual's ability to maintain employment and for younger people to attend school.

The final evaluation documents how the homelessness strategy provided a framework for a coordinated community response to homelessness so as to reduce these negative impacts and enable individuals and families to lead safe, active, participative and rewarding lives.

The strategy set out an ambitious program for social change. The evaluation documents the considerable improvements made in the short term and outlines potential long-term benefits for people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness in the ACT.

We have moved a long way from the environment that existed prior to the development and implementation of the strategy, where discrete services for homeless people often operated in isolation and mainstream services, such as public housing, were often hard for homeless people to access.

The evaluation highlights that from its first year of operation, one of the most significant achievements of the strategy has been engineering the evolution of the homelessness sector from a series of discrete services to a coordinated service system that includes homelessness services, and public and community housing.

Stakeholders report that there is now a culture of mutual learning across all organisations and of addressing issues and challenges that arise in an open and collaborative manner. Closer working relationships and a better appreciation of how integrated responses provide better outcomes for clients are likely to have the long-term benefits of continuing to streamline access for all clients, whilst also assisting with future sector development by improving data.

From its first year of operation, the strategy began to change the landscape of homelessness services in the ACT. The capacity of the sector was increased through the establishment of new services and additions to existing services for single men, men with children, families and crisis accommodation for men. Outreach services were introduced to provide more flexible support options to people at risk of homelessness and at various stages of the homelessness continuum.

The Canberra emergency accommodation service was launched to provide brokerage and an important entry point into crisis accommodation. A youth homelessness action plan was developed to guide responses for young people experiencing homelessness and head leasing arrangements were introduced to support high risk and complex clients whose tenancies with Housing ACT were at significant risk.

As the strategy has progressed into its second year, the reorientation of the homeless services sector continued to move towards an integrated service system. The reforms assisted the repositioning of services along a continuum of care for people experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness with Housing ACT providing the post-crisis response and SAAP providing the crisis response.

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