The Prime Minister’s Council on Homelessness held its sixteenth meeting, and last for the calendar year, in Melbourne on Thursday 22 and Friday 23 November 2012. As the Council approaches the final phase of its current term, discussions focussed on consolidating advice on homelessness priorities with which the Council have been engaged during the previous 18 months. The Council welcomed the participation of the Hon Brendan O’Connor MP, Minister for Housing and Homelessness, to discuss recent key achievements.
National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness
The Council acknowledged the announcement that the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness is intended to continue as the primary mechanism for investment in homelessness through a transitional agreement. The Council was also pleased to note the Government’s in-principle support for a longer term agreement. Members validated the importance of the central strategies of the White Paper, The Road Home, continuing to be reflected in the agreements to provide a strong underpinning for ongoing efforts to address homelessness.
Homelessness evidence base
Council members expressed their satisfaction at recent efforts made by the Government to enhance data collection and analysis on homelessness—noting that this greatly improves the capacity to monitor progress against the White Paper targets. The Council was pleased to reflect that its advice to the Australian Bureau of Statistics on including severe overcrowding in the new definition of homelessness has publicly highlighted this as a significant concern in the Census data, particularly for Indigenous Australians. The Council would like to see further analysis of Census data undertaken in order to better understand the circumstances of different forms of homelessness, particularly that of overcrowding.
Addressing youth homelessness
The Council continued its focus on the value of a flexible model of supported accommodation to help young Australians, who are unable to live at home, to engage with education and training and successfully transition to independent living, sustainable employment and stable accommodation. Members identified that such a model would support the Australian Government’s broader social policy agenda relating to child protection, youth, education, homelessness and social inclusion.
Health, ageing and homelessness
Council members reflected on the progress of a range of homelessness-linked health and aged care initiatives, noting that embedding homelessness in the implementation of broader reform agendas offers a key opportunity to prevent and break the cycle of vulnerability.
Recognising the work of the homelessness sector
The Council expressed their support for the 2013 National Homelessness Services Achievement Awards as a key opportunity to reflect on the dedication and high performance of many agencies in the sector. The Awards event in 2013 will also be a chance to reflect on progress against the White Paper targets.
The first meeting of the Council in 2013 will be held in Canberra in February.