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COAG Select Council on Homelessness Communique

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COAG Select Council on Homelessness

30 March 2012

The COAG Select Council on Homelessness held its second meeting today in Sydney to continue driving forward critical national reforms to reduce homelessness.

Ministers welcomed the new Chair of the Council, the Hon Brendan O’Connor MP, Australian Government Minister for Housing and Minister for Homelessness.

National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness One of the Council’s key tasks is to oversee the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness (NPAH), a $1.1 billion initiative funded jointly by the Australian and state and territory governments. The NPAH focuses on three key strategies to reduce homelessness:

• prevention and early intervention to stop people becoming homeless; • breaking the cycle of homelessness; and • improving and expanding the service response to homelessness.

At today’s meeting, Ministers considered progress being made by individual jurisdictions under the NPAH. Revision of Implementation Plans as agreed at the December meeting is well underway.

Specialist Homelessness Services Collection The Council was presented with the First Quarterly Report on the Specialist Homelessness Services Collection (SHSC). The SHSC was developed by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) in consultation with jurisdictional officials, and commenced in July 2011. The SHSC came about as a result of the need for improved data on homelessness which has been recognised as a priority by COAG. The Commonwealth, States and Territories have made a significant investment in the new SHSC to strengthen the evidence base for measuring the progress of homelessness reforms. The Select Council is pleased to announce that the AIHW will release this report shortly.

National Quality Framework for Homelessness Services Ministers endorsed further work on options for a National Quality Framework (NQF) to ensure a nationally consistent level of service quality for people accessing homelessness services. The proposed NQF would complement existing State-based Quality Frameworks and include a charter of rights and responsibilities, a nationally consistent approach to responding to complaints from clients, and a set of Quality Standards for specialist homelessness services. Today Ministers endorsed a project plan to enable a decision on a preferred model for the NQF, and requested that detailed costings of possible models be undertaken to inform future decisions.

Reducing exits from care into homelessness People leaving the care and justice systems have been identified as being at high risk of falling into homelessness. The Council considered a range of initiatives in place across Australia to reduce exits into homelessness and acknowledged that a better connected service system is key to achieving long-term, sustainable reductions in the number of people who are homeless. Ministers considered work

underway to improve links between homelessness services and mainstream services to improve outcomes for individuals, reduce duplicate processing across agencies, and enable faster transition from temporary to stable housing.

Ministers noted that in view of Queensland’s recent election the Queensland position on items considered at the meeting was reserved and will be confirmed out-of-session.

Next Meeting The Select Council will meet again in late 2012.

Media Contact: Minister O’Connor’s office, Maria Hawthorne 0407 015 986