Page 3245 - Week 11 - Tuesday, 13 November 2007

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Homeless people—services

DR FOSKEY: My question is directed to the Minister for Disability and Community Services and is in regard to funding to reduce homelessness. On 6 November opposition leader Kevin Rudd pledged $150 million to set up 600 new houses and units for homeless people across Australia, and called on the states and territories to match the investment. Minister, could you please inform the Assembly whether the ACT government remains committed to matching commonwealth funding for homelessness services?

MS GALLAGHER: I thank Dr Foskey for the question. The government remains committed to overmatching the commonwealth on homelessness services. At the moment I think we overmatch the commonwealth by $2 million a year. A year ago we took $1 million out of our overmatching as part of the savings required by government. But regardless of withdrawing a million, we still overmatched the commonwealth in homelessness services. We are certainly not looking to decrease our commitment. In fact, we have further spending for homelessness services in the bill introduced in the Assembly today.

As I said, in the work that we have done in terms of reforming the SAAP sector and working with the providers, that million dollar cut that we saw almost two years ago did not come at the cost of one accommodation bed night. In fact, I congratulate all the services who worked with us to look at ways to reform and streamline their services so that the overmatching that we provide in the ACT to SAAP services goes into delivering outcomes for people who need them.

We are doing quite a bit of work in the area of youth homelessness this year. The focus is on youth homelessness in terms of some of those priority areas. We have funded a piece of work, which you will be aware of—Children’s Experiences of Homelessness. It was commissioned through the Institute of Child Protection Studies. Part of the target is looking at ensuring that we maintain young people’s accommodation rather than having them join the homelessness sector. The department has been working on a couple of models with providers to look at the best way we can provide services to young people.

If Kevin Rudd is elected in November, and there is the possibility that we could get some further support around homelessness, the government would have a look at what that means. At the moment, I understand the announcement by Rudd is largely around capital infrastructure, not necessarily around service provision. We would have to look at that when it came out to see what they were offering the ACT. At the moment our funding in the SAAP sector will be maintained. As I said, that is more than we are required to do under the SAAP agreement.

DR FOSKEY: Mr Speaker, I have a supplementary question. Minister, with increased funding, what would be your priorities for directing that?

MS GALLAGHER: I will take that—

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