Page 2138 - Week 07 - Thursday, 16 May 2013

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The ACT government is committed to continuing the work that was commenced under the original national agreements. This has already been seen with the reform of youth housing and homelessness services in the territory. During the reform of youth housing and homelessness services in 2011, research and consultation indicated that an effective service system needs to support people across a whole continuum, from prevention through to stabilisation and maintenance. Lessons learnt through the reform of youth housing and homelessness services were used to inform the current reform to the homelessness sector, with the directorate taking a whole of continuum approach to service delivery and applying a transparent funding base to all services affected by the reform.

I know that a concern of the sector to date has been about gauging the impacts of the reforms on services and clients. I have heard this clearly and can announce that an independent evaluation of reform of the homelessness service system will be undertaken in October 2014. The evaluation will include services provided to all cohorts, including young people, and will allow for a real examination of the full spectrum of homelessness services.

A common ground project was identified as a key priority under the Labor and Greens parliamentary agreement. We are making progress on the common ground development for the ACT. I see this as one more step in the path towards a more comprehensive continuum of housing and homelessness, as it will provide a tangible and practical response. Common ground will provide alternative housing options for vulnerable Canberrans who might not otherwise receive suitable long-term housing appropriate to their needs.

The provision of long-term housing is a cornerstone of this commitment and the foundation upon which all other support and assistance rests to enable people to live their life to the fullest. Establishing a common ground in Canberra fits within the social housing continuum and provides a link between homelessness services and social housing accommodation.

The initiatives I have discussed today all aim to address the common goal of reducing homelessness through early intervention, prevention and breaking the cycle. The ACT can take great pride in the work it has done under the current national agreements. We have a strong, passionate and committed sector, both government and community, and we are all responding to the difficulties as a shared burden.

I appreciate and commend the professionalism demonstrated by all players during this difficult process of reform, and I thank them for it. The collaboration between government and community will help ensure that, in the face of the funding challenges, we achieve the best possible outcomes for those who are some of the most vulnerable in our community. This is the outcome we all want to see, because we understand that through safe, secure and affordable accommodation, people are able to take advantage of opportunities—opportunities for education, training and employment and opportunities to improve people’s health, social and financial wellbeing, thereby stopping the cycles of disadvantage.

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