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Tuesday, 4 September 1984
Page: 399

Senator GILES —My question is directed to the Minister for Social Security. In view of the Budget announcement of the supported accommodation assistance program for homeless youth, women in crisis and the chronically homeless, will the Minister please clarify the relationship between the proposed program and current funding arrangements-that is, through the women's emergency services program, the Homeless Persons Assistance Act and youth support services-and explain the implication for existing services such as crisis accommodation for women and for young people?

Senator GRIMES —As Senator Giles said, the new supported accommodation assistance program was announced in the Budget. This arose from the report on the Commonwealth's Review of Crisis and Youth Accommodation, which was tabled in this Parliament. As a result of that report and its recommendations I have had negotiations with the various State Ministers for community welfare about the situation which exists in various crisis accommodation programs generally. That report, Senator Giles will remember, reported that there was no order, no chaos, no sense of direction and no apparent idea of just where we were going in this whole miscellany of crisis accommodation programs which have developed over the years. The purpose of the new program is to provide funds to the States and Territories to be used to assist non-government and local government bodies to provide a range of supported accommodation services-services both of the traditional type which have provided accommodation for those who are long term homeless, particularly aged men, and in the youth area and the women's area. It is hoped that these programs will be brought together so that we can replace the homeless persons assistance program, the women's emergency services program, the youth services scheme, and related elements of the children's services program with a supported accommodation assistance program which contains three elements- the youth supported accommodation program, the women's emergency services program and the general supported accommodation program.

As a result of recent negotiations with the States, we have come to an agreement, with some minor details to be sorted out. By 1 January I believe these new programs will be in place. We will then have three quite separate programs. The women's program, which is the one particularly mentioned by Senator Giles, will be separate from the other two programs. Funding and administration will be considered separately. In fact, by bringing together the present State and Federal contributions to these programs, plus the additions in the Budget, more funds will be available than have been available in the past. Part of the idea in developing the program is to give women who run programs such as this, and also those people who run youth shelters, one government and one agency with which to deal, and also to give them a guarantee of funds in a way that they have not had in the past.

If negotiations with the States and the Territories can be completed as quickly as I think they will be, this program will be established on 1 January 1985. From 1 January 1985 to 1 July it will be a Commonwealth-funded program. After that almost all elements of the program, with the particular exception of the homeless persons assistance program, will be cost shared. The result will be a more coherent program and, in the long term, I believe, a better funded program in all these areas than has been the case in the past.