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Thursday, 14 February 2013
Page: 1576

Unaccompanied Humanitarian Minor Program

(Question No. 1318)

Ms Gambaro asked the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, in writing, on 29 November 2012:

In respect of Unaccompanied Humanitarian Minors (UHMs) turning 18 years of age, (a) what targeted support/transitional care arrangements are available, (b) what guidelines does the department issue to service providers to support UHMs in transition, (c) what analysis and assessments has the department undertaken to determine levels of homelessness amongst this group, and (d) by way of monthly breakdown, in (i) 2007-08, (ii) 2008-09, (iii) 2009-10, (iv) 2010-11, (v) 2011-12, and (vi) 2012-13 (to date), would the Minister provide the details on the levels of homelessness amongst this group.

Mr Brendan O'Connor: The answers to the honourable member's question is:

(a) As part of the UHM Program, state and territory governments, as well as contracted service providers, support UHM clients in transitioning to independent living in the lead up to turning18 years of age. UHMs who turn 18 are placed in suitable long term housing as part of their transition. These young people are assisted to engage in the community with local cultural and religious groups, as well as with a range of life skills including budgeting, cooking, community services and household maintenance.

Where UHM or Refugee Youth Support Pilot (RYSP) clients are transitioning to the Humanitarian Settlement Services (HSS) Program, the HSS Service Provider will seek a transition out care plan and other relevant information about the youth from the originating service providers.

Once UHMs turn 18 years of age they are eligible to access a range of services, including mainstream services such as education, training, employment assistance and health care. Clients will already have had access to many of these services, such as health care and education under the UHM program, providing service continuity.

(b) Guidelines are provided to service providers in relevant program contracts.

(c) and (d) There is an acknowledged lack of available data across the Commonwealth and the States and Territories on the rates of homelessness experienced by migrants and refugees, including for UHMs. Whilst anecdotal evidence suggests some among this group may be more vulnerable to homelessness than others, including young refugees and migrant and humanitarian youth and women subjected to family violence, there is currently no data to confirm or rebut this.

The Department and the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) are working together to improve the analysis of the homelessness experience, including through the General Social Survey and Census of Population and Housing. The Department also plan to include questions on housing and homelessness in the longitudinal survey, 'Building a New Life in Australia', which will follow refugees over their first five years in Australia, collecting a range of information about how well they settle.

This data analysis will not support prevalence findings but will support improved policy and service delivery responses for migrants and refugees who are identified as most vulnerable to homelessness.