Page 4310 - Week 13 - Thursday, 17 November 2005

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Breaking the cycle: the ACT homelessness strategy outlines the ACT’s approach to reducing homelessness. It calls for a whole of community response to homelessness and, as such, has been developed, and is being implemented, in partnership with the community. The broad objectives of the strategy are aligned with the SAAP V strategic directions. The ACT is indeed at the forefront of strategic and innovative thinking on homelessness.

Mr Speaker, you will be aware that during poverty week, the government announced that a poverty-proofing trial, using the Irish model, would form part of the mid-point evaluation of the homelessness strategy. I have embraced the opportunity to be the minister to conduct the ACT’s first poverty-proofing trial for two reasons. The first is the nexus between homelessness and poverty. People with an income and assets rarely become homeless. The second is that, by running a poverty-proofing check on the homelessness strategy, we aim to ensure that our future work in developing and evaluating policies and programs does not inadvertently act to increase the causes and the levels of poverty in our community.

The homelessness strategy is one of the ACT’s key strategies for social change. It sits under the policy framework of the Canberra plan and the social plan. The social plan provides the ACT community with its long-term target of reducing primary homelessness to as close to zero as possible by 2013. The homelessness strategy provides a blueprint through which the community will work together to reduce the level of homelessness, as well as its causes and effects.

In developing and implementing the homelessness strategy, we have set out a program of social change. We have made a number of significant achievements through the strategy. We have moved from the situation prior to the strategy where we really had a number of stand-alone services for homeless people, such as refuges, as well as mainstream services, such as health services and housing services, which homeless people found difficulty accessing.

Today we have a situation where we are building an integrated service system that works to provide seamless services for homeless people and those at risk of homelessness. The ACT has taken significant steps towards achieving service coordination, responding to client complexity and implementing innovative new service responses with a focus on transitional support. A progress report against the homelessness strategy will be tabled in the Legislative Assembly this month and we will detail our achievements so far.

In tabling the SAAP V multilateral agreement, I commend the work of the ACT community in continuing the challenge and address the causes of homelessness, as is evident in a strong support of the ACT homelessness strategy. This support places the ACT in the best possible position to meet and exceed the objectives of the SAAP V multilateral agreement. I am confident that the ACT, in its participation in SAAP V, will continue to be at the forefront of national and international responses to homelessness.

Finally, I would like to commend the work of the officers of the Department of Disability, Housing and Community Services whose negotiation skills actually enabled us to sign off on this agreement. I can tell members that the commonwealth officers advising the federal minister had a quite different view on life from those people living

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