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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 3 Hansard (22 March) . .

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Homelessness data

Ministerial statement

MS BERRY (Ginninderra—Deputy Chief Minister, Minister for Education and Early Childhood Development, Minister for Housing and Suburban Development, Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence, Minister for Women and Minister for Sport and Recreation) (11.05): On 14 March this year the Australian Bureau of Statistics released the homelessness data for the 2016 census. I want to share the key results with the Assembly today in order to highlight how much progress we have made with regard to homelessness in recent years and how the government's programs are working. I will also talk about those areas where we still need to do more work and what we are doing to make progress where we can.

The most significant outcome is that the census data reveals that there has been a major reduction in the number of people who are homeless in the ACT. On census night there were 142 fewer people homeless in the ACT than in 2011. This is a decline of eight per cent over a period in which the population of the ACT grew by more than 11 per cent. It also bucked the national trend over the same period, where homelessness grew by more than 13 per cent.

We now have the fourth lowest rate of homelessness of all Australian jurisdictions, at 40.2 homeless persons per 10,000 head of population. In 2011 we were the second highest. This has come on top of the Report on government services data released in January that showed that in 2016-17 the ACT had the strongest results in the area of employment and labour force participation for clients of specialist homelessness services.

After receiving support, 32.1 per cent of all clients were employed, or enrolled in education or training, and 26.3 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients were employed, or enrolled in education or training. This was compared to the national rates of 20.4 per cent for all clients and 14.3 per cent for Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander clients. The ROGS data also showed that 68 per cent of people who sought government assistance to either remain in or gain independent housing were successful, through the help of a specialist homelessness service. This result was second only to South Australia's.

How is it that, at a time when homelessness is growing in Australia, the ACT is achieving such positive results? Why is the ACT bucking the trends? The answer is that our focus on a single human services gateway, early intervention, sustained support and ensuring sustainable housing outcomes is working.

The human services gateway provides a common assessment and referral system that works across service needs. It has therefore increased the scope for social housing and homelessness services to work together with other services, such as disability services and family services, to provide person-centred support. The mantra of this approach is "the right service at the right time for the right duration". It focuses on building the strength and capacity of families and individuals. In the ACT we now call this central intake model OneLink.


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