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Minister explains what government is doing for homeless people.

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Tuesday 28 February 2006

Minister explains what government is doing for homeless people


TONY EASTLEY: John Cobb is the Federal Minister for Community Services. 


He has res
ponsibility for the Supported Accommodation Assistance Program. 


He's talking to AM 's Karen Percy. 


KAREN PERCY: John Cobb, the report has found that homeless family groups in particular find it most difficult to find a safe place to stay at night. There are very few facilities, it seems, that can handle families. Is that something the Government will address? 


JOHN COBB: Look, I've noted that and obviously that's a concern because a family's a much larger unit, it's harder to accommodate, so obviously single people or smaller groups… 


But by the same token, it is a very small percentage of the number of families actually looking for accommodation of the night. And mostly a family would tend to be, let's face it, a mother with two, three or maybe four children. 


But can I tell you what we are doing? 


There's a three-pronged approach. One is the direct way, in other words, providing accommodation for those homeless, be it refuges, whatever it might be. 


There's also prevention, in other words, how do we, through programs like re-connect and other programs, how do we stop young people in particular, getting into the homeless mould? 


So, you know, prevention is obviously a big issue. 


We're also running demonstration projects around Australia. 


KAREN PERCY: The report criticises the lack of funding generally in this area. Is the Government looking at increasing funding of these kinds of facilities? 


JOHN COBB: Well, certainly the Commonwealth Government has noticed that, and as I said, despite the fact this is a state responsibility, we have taken the lead in telling the states even though it's their responsibility, we have always put more money in. But this time we have insisted that they must match it 50-50. 


KAREN PERCY: And how much is that? 


JOHN COBB: Okay, well, the Commonwealth's putting in about $932 million, the states are putting in about $880 million. And that's an increase of $350 million. 


We've gone up by $100 million and we've got the other states to go up by $250 million collectively to match it. 


We also put in about $220 million which goes towards demonstration programs, programs like reconnect, in other words, prevention and demonstration projects to show what can be done in the areas of homelessness. 


TONY EASTLEY: The Federal Community Services Minister, John Cobb, speaking to Karen Percy.