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Wednesday, 25 June 2003
Page: 17610


Mr Ripoll asked the Minister representing the Minister for Family and Community Services, upon notice, on 18 March 2003:

(1) What strategy does the Government have in place to address issues such as homelessness induced by funding cuts under the Commonwealth State Housing Agreement.

(2) How many people are homeless in (a) Australia and (b) each State and Territory.

(3) How many people are homeless in each federal electoral division and, in particular, the electoral divisions of Oxley and Blair.


Mr Anthony (Minister for Children and Youth Affairs) —The Minister for Family and Community Services has provided the following answer to the honourable member's question:

(1) There are no funding cuts to the Commonwealth State Housing Agreement (CSHA).

On 25 October 2002, the Commonwealth offered the States and Territories a new agreement that will provide funding of $4.75 billion over 5 years from July 2003. This is around $210 million more than if the current CSHA was extended, because indexation will be provided for the first time.

The key Commonwealth strategies to address homelessness are through the CSHA and Supported Accommodation Assistance Program (SAAP). CSHA grant funding enables States and Territories to assist low-income households whose housing needs are not met in the private rental market, in particular people with special needs, that is those with disabilities, lone parents, indigenous and the aged. By targetting these groups, the CSHA works to assist people to avoid homelessness. The CSHA gives priority access to housing for those in greatest need, including homeless people. Specific strategies will be negotiated bilaterally with each State and Territory.

As well as the broad objectives, the CSHA has a specific program to target people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, the Crisis Accommodation Program (CAP). CAP is a capital program that provides short-term housing accommodation to people in crisis. Around $40 million of CSHA funding is committed to the CAP program annually. The CAP program has close links with the Supported Accommodation Assistance Program (SAAP).

SAAP is the main service delivery response to homelessness. SAAP is a cost shared program with States and Territories aimed at providing support services to assist people in crisis who are homeless and those at risk of homelessness to move toward independence. States and Territories administer SAAP on a day-to-day basis. There are currently over 1200 non-government organisations funded to provide crisis support services to homeless people. Under the current SAAP IV Bilateral Agreement, the Commonwealth's recurrent contribution to SAAP is estimated to be approximately $830 million (2000/01—2004/05). Combined with the States and Territories contribution, the total funding to SAAP will be over $1.4 billion for the same period.

(2) (a), (b) There are currently no reliable estimates of the number of homeless people in Australia. The Australian Bureau of Statistics used a special strategy on Census night in 2001 in an attempt to devise an estimate of people who were homeless on that night. It is expected that they will release a paper on that work as part of the 2001 Census papers.

I am however able to provide numbers of clients assisted by the Supported Accommodation Assistance Program (SAAP), which is a key program assisting homeless people. SAAP provided assistance to 95 600 clients in 2001-02 (Table 1).

Table 1: SAAP clients by State and Territory, Australia, 2001-02

State / Territory

Number

NSW

26 400

Vic

29 200

Qld

18 400

WA

9 000

SA

8 800

Tas

3 700

ACT

1 900

NT

3 100

Australia

95 600

(3) This information is not readily available by federal electorate.