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Wednesday, 30 May 2012
Page: 6441

Mr BRENDAN O'CONNOR (GortonMinister for Housing, Minister for Homelessness and Minister for Small Business) (18:24): Can I firstly thank the member for Capricornia for her support for what I think are very important attempts to provide local solutions to problems in communities like Rockhampton. I know she has a very strong record in providing support and providing insights into the way in which we should respond to our most vulnerable in our communities around the country, not least of all in Rockhampton. So I thank her for her interest and for her affirmation about the way in which the Department of Human Services and indeed other bodies—and the Gillard government—are going about providing support for people in this manner. We certainly do believe that there are some great results already from the efforts to dedicate resources locally and ensure that decisions and actions are taken locally that are peculiar to the community. I think it is a more effective way than having decisions made centrally and applied without regard for local considerations.

In relation specifically to the question asked by the member for Capricornia, on 10 May 2011 the government announced the budget measure of increased support for people needing assistance, which will provide $74.4 million to fund the case coordination trials over four years under the service delivery reform agenda. Case coordination complements the Building Australia's Future Workforce initiative. It operates in each of the 10 local government priority areas and it is part of a range of place-based initiatives. Case coordination was implemented in 19 locations are in 2011-12 and will increase, I am happy to say, to 34 locations in 2012-13 and 44 locations in 2013-14.

As at the end of April this year—and I am responding now specifically on the number of people assisted—I can inform the House, and indeed the member for Capricornia, that 6,861 people have received assistance and more than 11,000 referrals have been made. In Rockhampton, 1,035 customers have been assisted and 916 referrals made, which is a very significant number being provided with this sort of assistance.

Case coordination is trialling a service delivery approach to assist customers with complex needs to access services and support to improve their level of self-reliance and enable them to better participate in the economy and their own community. The objectives of case coordination are to deliver coordinated services that increase customers' ease of access to local support services; to provide enhanced assistance to people with additional needs, including appropriate referrals and follow-up; to provide the people, processes and systems to enable department staff to consistently identify customers with complex needs who will benefit from more targeted or specialised services; and collaboration with other local service providers to support better outcomes for customers.

The case coordination approach leverages the position of the department as a key first-to-know agency and facilitates connections with appropriate community services. Case coordination puts the customer at the core of our business, ensures that the customer rather than the service remains the focus, and promotes collaboration, engagement and empowerment—and, of course, it is voluntary. Staff spend time with people to identify the services they need, including those that will support their capacity to participate in work, education and training. People are seeking access to services that enable them to get the support they need to get on with their lives. The assistance provided is tailored to the needs of the person being supported. The data shows that customers are accessing a broad range of services indicating that a needs-based approach may be important when supporting vulnerable and marginalised people accessing services. Twenty-three per cent of people have been referred to housing related services in my own portfolio, 15 per cent have been referred to emergency services, 10 per cent had been referred to general health services, 10 per cent to education and training and nine per cent to financial stability services. I do thank the member for her question and her interest in these matters. It is an important area. To date, very good things have been done. Can I say on behalf of Minister Carr that more will be done to provide support for our most vulnerable in Australia.

Proposed expenditure agreed to.

Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities Portfolio

Proposed expenditure, $1,604,732,000