August 30th 

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) have identified a sustainable and longer term approach to housing and homelessness as a priority for all levels of government, yet future arrangements for homelessness policy and funding remain unclear. In December 2015, COAG agreed that the relevant ministers would progress reforms to housing and homelessness services in the context of existing work on housing. A cross-jurisdictional meeting of housing and homelessness minsters is scheduled for October 2016, and a report canvassing future policy reforms and funding options is due for release by the end of 2016.

To support COAG’s deliberations around reforms to homelessness services, the Commonwealth Department of Social Services are consulting with stakeholders across the homelessness sector. As part of the process, the St Vincent de Paul Society National Council (the Society) were invited to provide feedback on a range of issues including:

  • the performance measures and outcomes that governments should seek in funding services;
  • the appropriate role of early intervention and prevention within the homelessness sector and the wider human services system;
  • options to increase public accountability and transparency for government spending on homelessness; and,
  • the distribution of funding across the homelessness sector, including the merits or otherwise of targeting funding to particular service types

This paper provides the Society’s response to these questions, and elaborates on specific issues relating to the funding, overarching policy framework, and underlying principles that are relevant to the design and delivery of homelessness services. Our response is informed by the Society’s extensive experience in the provision of homelessness services and draws on feedback from our members and staff who provide assistance to people experiencing homelessness across Australia.