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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 3 Hansard (28 March) . . Page.. 687..

MR HARGREAVES (continuing):

commit a similar amount. The agreement includes strategic priorities that aim to consolidate and build on the strengths of SAAP over the past 20 years. These priorities aim to increase involvement in early intervention and prevention strategies, provide better assistance to people with a number of support needs and provide ongoing assistance to ensure stability for clients post-crisis.

In addition to these three strategic priorities, the bilateral agreement contains a further set of priorities for the ACT that align directly with "Breaking the cycle-the ACT homelessness strategy". In implementing the homelessness strategy to date, the ACT has taken significant steps towards achieving service coordination, responding to client complexity and implementing innovative new service responses.

In fact, over the Christmas holiday period of 2005-06, my department, in partnership with the Domestic Violence Crisis Service-DVCS-and a number of ACT women's services, established a crisis accommodation initiative which provided in excess of 1,000 additional bed nights for women and children escaping domestic violence. This initiative utilised Housing ACT properties temporarily vacant while awaiting refurbishment or permanent allocation to place women and children over the Christmas period. Support was provided by SAAP services and DVCS coordinated access to the properties.

The success of this initiative has resulted in ongoing work being undertaken by the ACT women's sector that will identify ways to improve pathways into and between homelessness services. This critical work will then further enhance and strengthen service integration by creating operational consistency across agencies and will improve outcomes for people experiencing homelessness.

Mr Speaker, you would be aware of the ACT's proud tradition in human rights and I am pleased to update the Assembly on recent initiatives that recognise and promote the rights of people experiencing homelessness. As part of the implementation of "Breaking the cycle-the ACT homelessness strategy", the ACT homelessness charter, a statement of rights, is being developed which articulates a series of rights for people experiencing homelessness which the ACT community should aspire to recognise and enshrine. These rights include the right of inclusion, rights to dignity, respect and non-discrimination and rights to safety and freedom.

The homelessness charter is being developed in partnership with the community. Currently a broad community consultation process is seeking feedback on the draft charter that will inform a future code of conduct for homelessness service providers. Feedback on the draft homelessness charter is specifically being sought from people who have experienced homelessness.

In tabling the SAAP V bilateral agreement I reaffirm the ACT government's commitment to responding to homelessness in a coordinated and collaborative manner. We have outlined our commitment to the provision of innovative and flexible service responses to meet the diverse needs of people experiencing homelessness. But, more importantly, in this bilateral agreement in the ACT homelessness strategy we have identified challenges for the ACT community to meet head on. We have challenged the community to recognise and enshrine the rights of people that are homeless in the same way that we have challenged service providers to deliver quality services which support

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