Page 599 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 9 March 2011

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First point is indicating that since November 2010 over 900 Canberrans at risk of homelessness have been assisted by first point. First point provides brokerage service; it provides support services and outreach services. We acknowledge that there are people that are not accommodated when they approach seeking accommodation for homelessness, but the role of first point is to provide ongoing and outreach support to those and indeed looking at other brokerage services and referrals to emergency accommodation services as well.

MR SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Ms Bresnan?

MS BRESNAN: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Minister, is it true that there are about 20 families who have been through first point in Canberra right now that are waiting for emergency and other accommodation and are having to use options like sleeping in cars?

MS BURCH: Other than the figures I have just put out, I do not have current data and statistics for first point. I am quite happy to take that on notice and get the numbers and look to what support services we are offering to families. Emergency accommodation for families is limited. It is something that we are aware of. But we also look to provide earlier invention programs and wraparound services. The tenancy support service is a way that we can support people who may be at risk or experiencing tenancy stress to offset and, indeed, to prevent homelessness.

MS LE COUTEUR: A supplementary, Mr Speaker.

MR SPEAKER: Yes, Ms Le Couteur.

MS LE COUTEUR: Minister, is the ACT government on track to reduce the number of homeless by seven per cent by 2013, which was a commitment the ACT made through the homelessness national partnership agreement?

MS BURCH: I would say that we are on track. We are certainly still committed to reducing homelessness, which is why we have introduced a range of programs, first point being one of them, with tenancy support. I am convening homelessness roundtables in the next couple of weeks. They will look at how the current system can better respond to the various pressure points and systems. Street to home is another program that we introduced about 12 months ago. That is providing outreach to rough sleepers, and that is proving to be very successful. The information coming back through St Vincent’s is that they are ahead of and above where they thought they would be in their program. That is the level of success of that program. All of those indicators seem to me to show that we are on track to reduce homelessness through our targets.

MR COE: A supplementary question, Mr Speaker?

MR SPEAKER: Yes, Mr Coe.

MR COE: Further to Ms Bresnan’s original question, is there evidence that homelessness is currently on the rise?

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