Australian and state and territory governments working together to reduce homelessness

The following fact sheet highlights the Australian and state and territory governments’ efforts to reduce homelessness and includes details on each state and territory’s Implementation Plans for the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness.

Homelessness in Australia

On the best available data, 105,000 Australians are homeless every night. Of these, 16,375 are sleeping rough.

Homelessness is increasing among families and the elderly. The number of homeless children under the age of 12 increased by 22 per cent between 2001 and 2006. Over the same period, the number of elderly homeless people increased by almost 30 per cent.

There has been some success in tackling youth homelessness, which dropped by 16 per cent between 2001 and 2006.

What we are doing

In December 2008, the Australian Government released a White Paper on Homelessness, The Road Home, which called on all levels of government, business, the not for profit sector and the community to join together to reduce homelessness.

The Road Home outlined the need for new investment in homelessness and reform of existing services. Homelessness must be prevented wherever possible. People who experience homelessness must be supported to move quickly through the crisis system into long term housing and at the same time get help to reconnect with education, employment and the community. Mainstream services and homelessness services have to work together more effectively to reduce homelessness.

In The Road Home, the Australian Government adopted two headline goals:

  • to halve the rate of overall homelessness by 2020
  • offer supported accommodation to all rough sleepers who seek it by 2020.

The White Paper also included interim targets to 2013 to contribute to these long term goals.

The state and territories have primary responsibility for the delivery of essential public services such as health, education, community services, social housing, justice and policing. The White Paper and the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness build on the work already undertaken by the states and territories towards reducing homelessness.

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Work already under way

In The Road Home the Australian Government committed to boost its efforts across all areas of government to achieve the 2020 headline goals and interim targets for reducing homelessness. This is especially important in areas such as social housing, employment, income support and aged care.

Specific Australian Government initiatives include:

  • $1.2 billion per year over five years (2008-13) for the National Affordable Housing Agreement to ensure that all Australians have access to affordable, safe and sustainable housing that contributes to social and economic participation
  • $5.6 billion for the Nation Building Economic Stimulus Plan to construct new dwellings and refurbish existing social housing dwellings
  • $400 million over two years (2008-10) for the National Partnership Agreement on Social Housing to increase the supply of social housing
  • $5.5 billion over 10 years (2008-18) for the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing to provide new houses and upgrades to existing houses in remote Indigenous communities
  • ninety Community Engagement Officers in Centrelink to provide outreach services to people who are homeless
  • additional emergency relief funding, more personal helpers and mentors for people living with severe mental illness, innovative employment services and increased capital and recurrent funding for elderly people who are homeless.

New work through the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness

As part of The Road Home, in December 2008, the Council of Australian Governments established a National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness. Under the Agreement the Australian Government has agreed to provide additional funding for homelessness to the states and territories who have agreed to match Australian Government funding and deliver services and capital projects that will contribute to an overall reduction in homelessness.

The Australian Government is contributing $550 million from 2008 to 2013, with the states and territories required to match this amount, making a total of $1.1 billion for new homelessness services. Some states and territories are contributing more than the matching required, so the total spend will be greater than $1.1 billion.

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Implementation Plans

Under the Agreement all states and territories are required to have an Implementation Plan which details how they will reduce homelessness through dedicated initiatives. As part of the Agreement all Implementation Plans are thoroughly reviewed on an annual basis, alongside Australian Government efforts to reduce homelessness, to ensure our combined efforts will meet the targets and goals set out in the White Paper. Implementation Plans for all jurisdictions are available on the Ministerial Council for Federal Financial Relations website.

Additionally, state and territory governments provide Annual Performance Reports detailing the progress of initiatives under their Implementation Plans:



Content Updated: 16 October 2012