Page 2135 - Week 07 - Thursday, 16 May 2013

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Pursuant to section 22(1)(a) of the Auditor-General Act 1996, I wish to inform the Assembly that the committee has been unable to reach an agreed position regarding any recommendation pertaining to the proposed appropriation that should be made for the operations of the Auditor-General for the 2013-14 financial year.

Pursuant to section 22(1)(b) of the Auditor-General Act 1996, the committee has forwarded to the Treasurer the draft budget for the operations of the audit office for the 2013-14 financial year as received from the Auditor-General.

Housing—homelessness services reform

Ministerial statement

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo—Minister for Territory and Municipal Services, Minister for Corrections, Minister for Housing, Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs and Minister for Ageing), by leave: Significant changes have been occurring in the area of homelessness services in the ACT of late, and it is timely to provide the Assembly with an update on current issues being faced by both the government and the homelessness sector and new developments that are taking shape.

The ACT has felt repercussions from changes to federal funding resulting from long-term national policy changes on housing and homelessness. In 2008 the Australian government released its white paper on homelessness entitled “The Road Home”, in which the government outlined a national approach to reducing homelessness. Two national funding agreements then commenced in 2009—the national affordable housing agreement and the national partnership agreement on homelessness—which brought together commonwealth, state and territory efforts on housing and homelessness.

The national affordable housing agreement in 2009 enabled greater flexibility across the system. However, as a result of moving to a population-based funding formula, the introduction of the agreement resulted in an actual decline in funding for both housing and homelessness support services in the ACT. As a consequence of this, annual funding from the commonwealth to the ACT has declined from 2009 levels by $3.7 million per annum in 2012-13 and will continue to reduce to $5.9 million per annum below 2009 levels by 2014-15. Despite the significant reduction in funding from the commonwealth in 2009, the demand for services in the ACT has not declined.

Following a decision by the ACT government in 2009 to defer the impact of the cuts, Housing ACT has, to date, maintained the previous level of funding to the non-government sector through subsidisation of homelessness services from the broader Housing ACT budget and the capital funding allocated under the nation building and jobs plan.

This cross-subsidisation can no longer continue given the challenges facing Housing ACT, the scale of the reductions from the national agreements, and the uncertainty surrounding future national partnership agreements on homelessness. If current funding levels were to be continued to homelessness services, Housing ACT would need to reduce its current level of operations every year from now and into the foreseeable future to maintain the current level of cross-subsidy.

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