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Howard Government’s homelessness cost-shifting strategy.



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Senator Kim Carr

Labor Senator for Victoria Shadow Minister for Housing; Urban Development; Local Government and Territories

15/02/06

09/06

Howard Government’s homelessness cost-shifting strategy The Shadow Minister for Housing, Senator Kim Carr, today demanded that Mal Brough or John Cobb - whichever Minister is taking responsibility for housing and homelessness policy - explain the logic behind the Government’s National Homelessness Strategy.

After questioning officials from FACSIA about the fate of a series of demonstration projects funded under the National Homelessness Strategy, Senator Carr said, “I can only conclude that the strategy is little more than a cost shifting exercise under which the national Government funds demonstration projects and then, when those services prove to be invaluable to client groups, expects state and territory governments to pick up the tab for ongoing funding.”

Senator Carr said that the Department’s decision not to provide further funding for the Homeless Persons’ Legal Service in Sydney is inexplicable.

This service provides free legal advice to homeless Australians and those at risk of homelessness. In a little over 12 months it leveraged over $1.3 million worth of pro bono legal services for homeless Australians for just $120,000 in Commonwealth funding.

Now the Department is unable to find of a Commonwealth funding source which could continue to support this service or proposed similar services in the Hunter, South Australia and Western Australia which were also rejected for funding under the National Homelessness Strategy.

Senator Carr asked, “What is the point of funding a demonstration project that turns out to be really successful - according to the independent evaluation required by the Department - and then leaving it high and dry?

“This service helped 600 homeless or potentially homeless people to resolve their often complex legal difficulties. The fact that this very worthy program did not receive ongoing funding simply beggars belief.

“But what is more worrying is that Departmental officials as good as admitted that the demonstration projects the Government will be funding under the new round of the strategy will probably be left to the states and territories to support in the longer term.

“Such funding is expected to come from the Supported Accommodation Assistance Program (SAAP). This is the same program that was found to be in need of a 15 per cent funding increase just to maintain viability of existing services - and which received not one extra cent from the Commonwealth when the SAAP Agreement was renegotiated last year.

“When questioned about how states and territories could manage the extra impost, the magic pudding of GST revenue was dutifully rolled out.”

Further information: Kim Carr 0419 563 922, Amanda Forman, 0417 142 238 .

Electorate Office: 62 Lygon St CARLTON SOUTH 3053 Ph: 03 9639 2798 Fax: 03 9639 3109

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