Page 2838 - Week 09 - Tuesday, 11 October 2022

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elimination of homelessness, of seeing homelessness being rare, brief and non-recurring. There is work to be done.

I am really pleased that we have been doing some significant work increasing investment in homelessness services. If we look at the 2018-19 budget base funding of homelessness services compared to this financial year, we have moved from $20 million of annual funding in that period to $30 million of annual funding for homelessness services. That has included the introduction of a range of new homelessness services—services such as Ainslie Lodge and MacKillop House—and significant work on rough sleeping. In our last budget we provided additional services, particularly looking at some of the underlying issues such as community mental health. There is a lot of work being done.

We are now also working with the homelessness sector on commissioning of services post 2023. This is not an issue that we are going to solve overnight, but I am very confident that, working with the sector, we will get there.

MR DAVIS: Minister, what would you like to see from the federal government in their upcoming budget to eliminate homelessness nationality?

MS VASSAROTTI: Thank you for the question. Certainly, the ACT government has a significant role to play, but there is also a role to play for the commonwealth government. I think that there has been a real change, with a cooperative environment in terms of homelessness services and responding to the issues at a national and a local level.

There are a number of key things that we would like to see from the commonwealth government. We have talked for a number of years about looking at the issue of the historical social housing debt. We continue to advocate for the removal of that historical debt, which would mean that we could invest those funds into more homelessness services. There are some very productive conversations being led by Minister Berry in relation to the renegotiation of the national housing agreement, which will include housing services. The issue of commonwealth rent assistance is one that is an active conversation and would make a real difference; I think we would all point to the very low income levels of people on welfare payments, and it would make a significant difference in the lives of people on those very low incomes.

MR PARTON: Minister, have you failed as minister, given the significant increase of homelessness on your watch, as highlighted by your erstwhile colleague Mr Davis?

MS VASSAROTTI: Thank you for the question. I think it is a very interesting suggestion to say that we have failed because we have put in increased funding. Homelessness is a complex issue. There are a range of issues, particularly in relation to chronic homelessness. It is not something that we are going to solve easily. It is something that we need to work with the homelessness sector on—and actually across the human services sector as well. We will not solely solve the issue of homelessness via the specialist homelessness sector. We need to look at the whole human services sector. We need to look at the complex issues, particularly for people who are suffering chronic homelessness with issues such as mental health, substance use, and domestic and family violence, and bring all those issues together.

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