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1st December 2017     SUPPORT AND SAFETY HUBS STATEWIDE CONCEPT PAPER
by NIFVs

Support and Safety Hubs Statewide Concept Paper


The Statewide Concept for Support and Safety Hubs, was released  recently by the Victorian Government. The Concept outlines design features of the Hubs, including access pathways and key functions.

The next stage will be the development of the practice framework, operational model and management and government structures. These will be informed by statewide and local co-design.

 A local Hub establishment group will be developed in the coming month to establish a launch site in the North-East Melbourne area. more more

3rd August 2017     A FINANCIAL BLACK HOLE AWAITS ‘GENERATION RENT’ IN RETIREMENT
by Rob Burgess, The New Daily

The deterioration in wealth equality revealed in Tuesday’s HILDA survey should be seen as a crossroads in Australian history – either we continue down the road to inequality, or we fix the problem at its heart.

The highly respected survey showed a property-based class divide emerging due to plummeting home ownership rates in the under-40s.

That means a generation of renters will not accumulate wealth through the family home as their parents did.

That would not be a problem for ‘Generation Rent’ if, after a lifetime of renting, they could still afford a dignified retirement.

But unlike nations such as Germany and France, where renting is the norm, Australia has a welfare and retirement system still predicated on the idea of home ownership.

That’s a huge problem, because on present settings, couples or individuals who have not paid off homes by retirement will be much worse off than those who have.

Access to property ownership is no longer simply determined by hard work and enterprise – increasingly it is determined by the ‘bank of Mum and Dad’ helping the younger generation with a deposit.

A nation that once encouraged its young adults to be economically independent has, through cynical wealth-redistributing policies, forced them back into being dependent on their asset-rich parents – if, that is, they are lucky enough to have them.

The Australian dream of owning a home outright in retirement is fading fast. 
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2nd August 2017     CALL FOR 100,000 SOCIAL HOUSING BOOST ACROSS AUSTRALIA TO HELP PEOPLE EXPERIENCING HOMELESSNESS
by Council to Homeless Persons

If we’re going to end the housing crisis, we need 100,000 new public and community housing properties targeted to low income earners over the next five years. 30,000 of those properties would be allocated for Victoria, to move the thousands of people off waiting lists into a safe, permanent home. 

There are more than 35,000 people on the Victorian Housing Register awaiting public housing. Private rental is at its lowest rate of affordability ever.  Less than 2% of private rental in Melbourne's north and west is considered affordable for people on low incomes.

Homelessness services in Melbourne's north and west supported nearly 30,000 households in 2015/16, all seeking homelessness support and accommodation.

You can support the call for 100K Homes by signing the petition at  www.endthehousingcrisis.org.au

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1st August 2017     WALK IN MY SHOES TOURS
by Council for homeless persons

As part of Homelessness Week the Council for Homeless Persons are  organising a couple of PESP Walk in My Shoes Tours (Tues 8th & Wed 9th) that are open to the public.

Please see flier attached, or here. I encourage you to circulate the info below to your networks. People from all sorts of backgrounds would find this activity of interest and benefit – local Government, community services, allied health, Centrelink, Department, Universities etc. more

1st August 2017     AUSTRALIA POST FREE 12 MONTH REDIRECTION OF MAIL SERVICE
by Australia Post

Australia Post supports victims of family violence  
Australia Post are providing a free 12 month mail redirection service to support victims of family violence. In terms of eligibility, either a letter from a support agency (on their letterhead) verifying  that the client has satisfied the agency's criteria for experiencing family violence, an intervention order or a statutory declaration from the police will be required   more

21st July 2017     PROMOTION OF SAFE SLEEPING ADVICE FOR HOMELESSNESS SECTOR
by Irene Tomasszewski Assistant Director Homelessness and Accommodation Support

Promotion of Safe Sleeping Advice for Homelessness Sector

The Commission for Children and Young People has recommended that homelessness services promote safe sleeping arrangements for infants, and the use of infant safe sleeping resources. This follows a recent child death inquiry and the tragic death of an infant. The purpose of child death inquiries is to promote continuous improvement in child protection and the safety and wellbeing of children and young people.

The department is promoting the use of the following safe sleeping resources and information. Please share this advice with staff providing homelessness support to families and infants.

  more

23rd June 2017     WHO’S RESPONSIBLE? HOUSING POLICY MISMATCHED TO OUR $6 TRILLION ASSET
by Prof J Dodson, S Sinclair and T Dalton in The Conversation

Does the Australian government have the policy, organisational and conceptual capacity to handle the country’s A$6 trillion housing stock? We ask this question in a newly released research report. The answer is critically important to both household opportunity and prosperity, and to the management of our largest national asset.

Australians’ wealth is overwhelmingly in our housing. As of late 2016, our housing stock was valued at $6 trillion. That’s nearly double the combined value of ASX capitalisation and superannuation funds.

The authors appraised the Henry Review of Taxation (2010), the National Housing Supply Council report series (2009-2013), the Productivity Commission inquiry into planning (2011), the COAG Report on Housing Supply and Affordability Reform (2012), the Financial System Inquiry (2014), the Federation Report on housing and homelessness (2014), and (albeit not a government report) the Senate Inquiry into housing affordability (2015). 

This report demonstrates weaknesses in Australia’s approach to housing and housing policymaking. There is evidence this is deliberate. For example, the Coalition members’ minority response to the 2015 Senate inquiry into affordable housing rejected almost all of its policy recommendations. Many of these would rectify some of the deficits we have identified.

The weak formal coordination in housing policy contrasts with other sectors such as energy, defence, biosecurity, disability, heritage, drugs and road safety, among others. 

The authors recommend that the Australian government reflects on the position of housing within the architecture of government. The $6 trillion national asset that housing represents deserves much better understanding of its dynamics and effects on the national economy, including productivity.

The authors argue that Australia needs a federal minister for housing, a dedicated housing portfolio, and an agency responsible for conceptualising and co-ordinating policy. The current fragmented, ad-hoc approach to housing policy seems poorly matched to the scale of the housing sector and its importance to Australia. more

23rd June 2017     SUPPORTIVE HOUSING IS CHEAPER THAN CHRONIC HOMELESSNESS
by C Parsell, University of Qld in The Conversation

It costs the state government more to keep a person chronically homeless than it costs to provide permanent supportive housing to end homelessness,  recent research shows.

Over a 12-month period, people who were chronically homeless used state government funded services that cost approximately A$48,217 each. Over another 12-month period in which they were tenants of permanent supportive housing, the same people used state government services that cost approximately A$35,117.

The significance of this cost difference is remarkable. Yes, people use A$13,100 less in government-funded services when securely housed compared to the services they used when they were chronically homeless. But, on top of that, the annual average of A$35,117 in services used by supportive housing tenants includes the A$14,329 cost of providing the housing and support.

When we provide permanent supportive housing, not only do we realise whole of government cost offsets, but the way people live their lives changes demonstrably.

The data show that when people are tenants of supportive housing, their low level criminal behaviour and reliance on crisis health and temporary accommodation services that characterised their lives while homeless reduces. For example, sustaining housing, compared to being homeless for a year, was associated with a 52 per cent reduction in criminal offending, a 54 per cent reduction in being a victim of crime, and 40 per cent reduced time spent in police custody. Their use of short term crisis accommodation reduced by 99 per cent; mental health service used declined by 65 per cent.

When people have access to housing that is safe and affordable, they no longer have to live as patients, criminals, inmates, clients, and homeless people.

Click here for the full article. more

24th May 2017     THE INSECURITY OF PRIVATE RENTERS - HOW DO THEY MANAGE IT?
by Alan Morris et al, University of Technology Sydney in The Conversation

A growing proportion of Australian households depend on the private rental sector for accommodation. This growth has occurred despite substantial insecurity of tenure under the law, unlike other countries with high private rental rates, such as Germany.

Our newly published research on the impacts of long-term or even lifelong insecurity on Australian private renters found their responses range from lack of concern to constant fear and anxiety.

Back in the 1990s about one-fifth of us rented our homes from private landlords. Now this has swelled to more than one-quarter.Historically, renting was usually a transitional step in the life cycle. Most people rented for a while and eventually bought a home.

While this housing pathway is still dominant, a growing number of Australians cannot make this transition. At least one in three private renters are long-term private renters (ten years or more). This equates to at least one in 12 households.

Australian households rent accommodation under a regulatory framework that provides little protection against landlord-instigated “forced moves” or untenable rent increases. 

Drawing on 60 in-depth interviews, we explored the impacts of this de jure housing insecurity on long-term private renters in different housing markets (low, medium and high rent, with 20 interviews in each) in Sydney and Melbourne. We identified three typical responses to ongoing insecurity:

  • incessant anxiety and fear;

  • lack of concern; and

  • concern offset to an extent by economic/social capital, with renting sometimes seen as the only means of living in a desired area.

    Click here for the full article.

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24th May 2017     NEW STRUCTURE FOR DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
by DHHS

DHHS will move to a new structure on 3 July, consisting of six Divisions, each headed by a senior deputy secretary:

  • Children, Families, Disability and Operations – Chris Asquini
  • Health and Wellbeing – Terry Symonds
  • Housing, Infrastructure, Sport and Recreation – Nick Foa
  • Regulation, Health Protection and Emergency Management – Melissa Skilbeck
  • Corporate Services – Carolyn de Gois
  • Strategy and Planning – Amity Durham (Acting)

The new structure also includes three portfolio agencies:
Victorian Agency for Health Information – Diane Watson
Safer Care Victoria – Professor Euan Wallace
Family Safety Victoria – Kelly Stanton

  more

24th May 2017     WHAT’S IN THE NAME ‘HOMELESS’? HOW PEOPLE SEE THEMSELVES AND THE LABELS WE APPLY MATTER
by Zoe Walter, The University of Queensland et al, in The Conversation

The researchers examined the question of how people who would be identified as homeless through our definitions see themselves.

They examined this question in a large-scale research project with the Salvation Army. We started by exploring how many people who were staying in crisis homeless accommodation would see themselves as a “homeless person”.

We found that 55% of people staying in homeless accommodation provided by The Salvation Army identified as “homeless”, and 31% rejected that label.

14% were ambivalent about categorising themselves as “homeless” – they neither fully accepted nor rejected the label. For example, they said they were “not 100% homeless” or that even though they might “technically” be classed as homeless, they did not see that as an accurate way to describe their situation.

The reasons people gave for their responses reflected the complex and varied nature of what is meant by “home”. Some saw themselves as homeless because they did not have the stability, security or privacy bound up in our Western notion of home.

The researchers found that the wellbeing of people who refused to define themselves as “homeless” was significantly higher than the wellbeing of those who had adopted the label to describe themselves. 

Somewhat surprisingly, people who had experienced chronic homelessness in the past were no more or less likely to self-categorise as homeless than people who had few or no previous homeless experiences.

What are the lessons for service providers?
Given the importance of self-definitions for mental health and wellbeing, understanding how people see themselves has important policy implications. 

Our research shows that not everyone who needs crisis accommodation defines themselves as a homeless person. However, individuals must typically self-identify as such to gain entry to homeless services. 

This means these people are required to adopt a view of themselves that is in and of itself associated with negative wellbeing outcomes. There is a need for housing and supported accommodation that does not put pressure on people to identify as homeless and thus to carry the baggage associated with that label.

click here for a link to the full article.

Click here for a link to the research abstract. more

24th May 2017     IS THIS THE BUDGET THAT FORGOT RENTERS?
by Emma Power, Geography and Urban Studies, Western Sydney University in The Conversation

The measures in the 2017-18 federal budget targeting the supply of lower-cost rental housing are limited. There are no significant funding increases to social housing and homelessness services. There is no increase in rent assistance to help low-income renters in the private rental market.

Capital gains tax and negative gearing settings remain largely untouched, and the proposed bond aggregator will support expansion of housing aimed at very specific groups. 

For the majority of Australia’s renters, housing will remain unaffordable, insecure and out of reach.

What’s missing?

There remains a need for courageous government action to tackle the structural inequities in the housing market. 

Removing tax incentives that keep investor heat in the market will be essential – and so will increases to social housing budgets.

Investment in a large stock of secure low-cost social housing should be prioritised. Failing this, there will be a need to increase rent assistance payments, particularly in high-cost regions. 

But this is far from ideal. More rent assistance will help renters in the short term, but amounts to a subsidy for private landlords in the long term.

Click here for a link to the full article. more

24th May 2017     WHAT THE FEDERAL BUDGET 2017 MEANS FOR HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS
by Michael Perusco and Dr Guy Johnson, RMIT, in Pro Bono

After years of neglect by both political parties housing affordability has finally become a major public policy issue

Addressing housing affordability is a serious policy challenge. Australians store a great deal of their wealth in housing. As such any policy responses that seek to address housing affordability must avoid creating a housing market shock which could ripple out into other areas of the economy. To avoid such a shock the federal government describes its policy approach as akin to using a scalpel rather than a chainsaw.

The budget contains a number of measures to address housing affordability and combined, they provide a good platform for future growth. The establishment of the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation (the Corporation) is a welcome move. The Corporation will establish a bond aggregator from 1 July 2018 which will issue bonds to investors and use the funds raised to lend to community housing providers to increase the supply of affordable housing.

With respect to homelessness, the budget commits to ongoing funding for homelessness services.

The budget did not set out a national affordable housing strategy, nor did it increase rent assistance to those struggling in the housing market or increase government funding for new social housing. There were also missed opportunities in relation to reforming negative gearing and capital gains concessions which play a key role in fuelling the current housing crisis. Something more than a scalpel, but less than a chainsaw is going to be required to address housing affordability.

Click here for a link to the full article. more

6th March 2017     STATE GOVERNMENT RELEASES AFFORDABLE HOUSING STRATEGY
by Western Homelessness Networker

On 6 March The State Government released Homes for Victorians, its Affordable Housing Plan. This exciting document includes new policy such as:

  • A small inclusionary zoning pilot
  • Facilitating the build of 50,000 new homes a year
  • Growing social housing
  • Establishing a Vacancy tax
  • Abolishing stamp duty for new first time buyers
  • Doubling the first home owner grant in regional Victoria
  • Creating the opportunity for first home buyers to co-purchase a property with the Victorian Government
  • Improving stability for renters
more

6th February 2017     INTIMATE PARTNER VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN IN AUSTRALIA: RELATED FACTORS AND HELP-SEEKING BEHAVIOURS
by Australian Policy Online

According to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Personal Safety Survey (PSS), 132,000 Australian women (1.5%) experienced violence (defined as any incident involving the occurrence, attempt or threat of either physical or sexual assault (ABS, 2012)) in the last 12 months from their current or previous partner. 

This research seeks to determine which factors were associated with (1) female experiences of intimate partner violence (IPV), (2) female reporting of physical or sexual assault by an intimate partner to the police and (3) females seeking help and support after experiencing IPV.

Results: The risk of IPV varies greatly across the community. Factors associated with a higher risk of IPV included being younger, Australian-born, having a long-term health condition, lacking social support, experiencing financial stress, having previously been a victim of child abuse and having experienced emotional abuse by an intimate partner. Where the most recent incident of physical or sexual assault in the last two years was perpetrated by an intimate partner, less than one in three assaults were reported to the police. Intimate partner assaults were less likely to be reported to the police if the perpetrator was still a current partner of the victim at the time of the interview, the assault was sexual (not physical) and if the victim perceived the assault was “not a crime” or “not serious enough”. Having a physical injury after the incident was associated with an increased likelihood of reporting the assault to the police. Where the most recent incident of violence (assaults and threats) was perpetrated by an intimate partner, a counsellor or social worker was consulted after 30% of all incidents.

Conclusion: Efforts to prevent IPV and improve services and supports for IPV victims should focus on women who experienced emotional abuse by a current or previous partner, sole parents, women who lack social supports, women experiencing financial stress, women who have experienced abuse as a child and women with a disability or long-term health condition.

Click here for a link to the full article. more

6th February 2017     BAN ON SLEEPING ROUGH DOES NOTHING TO FIX THE PROBLEMS OF HOMELESSNESS
by James Petty, researcher in Criminology in The Conversation

James Petty reports on his doctoral thesis examining how homelessness is currently regulated and on proposed changes to regulation.

Commenting on regulations implementted oversees he identifies that these actions have not reduced rates of homelessness. Such laws may decrease the visibility of homelessness in some areas, but bans are ineffective when used against populations that have nowhere else to go.

What other options are there? Where does or should responsibility for the homeless lie?

Justifying such laws are claims, like Ashton’s and Panahi’s, that these people have been offered accommodation and refused, revealing their homelessness as voluntary.

However, interpreting the choice to turn down temporary stop-gaps and band-aids in this way misses something crucial. If a person refuses temporary accommodation in order to demand more stable and supported accommodation, it is because they know such short-term solutions are not solutions at all.

Temporary housing simply results in people churning in and out of desperate situations. We must understand housing as being defined by its stability and relative permanence. Offering someone a month or two of accommodation is not the same as offering them housing.

Click here for a link to the full article. more

3rd February 2017     NATIONAL LIST OF PRIVATE AND PUBLIC AOD DETOX AND REHAB SERVICES
by HYDDI

Thank you to Carol from the Homeless Youth Dual Diagnosis Initiative for providing this comprehensive list of AOD detox and rehabilitation services.  more

3rd February 2017     INNOVATIVE FINANCING MODELS TO IMPROVE THE SUPPLY OF AFFORDABLE HOUSING
by Affordable Housing Working Group report to heads of Treasuries in Australian Policy Online

The Council on Federal Financial Relations asked the Affordable Housing Working Group (‘the Working Group’) to investigate innovative financing models aimed at improving the supply of affordable housing. The Working Group was asked to focus on models that attract private and institutional investment at scale into affordable housing and to report back to Heads of Treasuries on its findings and recommended next steps.

The Working Group was tasked with looking at affordable rental housing, as distinct from the purchase of affordable housing. While not considered in this report, assisting lower income households with purchasing affordable housing remains an important and ongoing policy challenge, and may benefit from further consideration by governments.

Following this consultation, the Working Group has determined that the establishment of a financial intermediary to aggregate the borrowing requirements of affordable housing providers and issue bonds on their behalf (‘the bond aggregator model’) offers the best chance of facilitating institutional investment into affordable housing at scale, subject to the provision of additional government funding.  more

3rd February 2017     SOME ROUGH SLEEPERS ARE ATTRACTING TOURISTS WITH THEIR STREET ART
by Chris Honig, Lecturer, in The Conversation

The Lord Mayor of Melbourne, Robert Doyle, recently proposed new bylaws to give police additional powers related to homelessness. Doyle later qualified that they would not be a ban on rough sleeping but would allow officers to remove items from homeless camps.

Experts have challenged the efficacy of a ban to reduce homelessness, but a key argument in favour of more aggressive strategies to clean up homeless camps focuses on how they depreciate the amenity of the city. Supporters of the ban argue the camps are “squalid” and turning the city into a “cesspit” and it’s been suggested that their inhabitants are “fake” beggars who harass tourists.

A common problem with stereotypes is not that they are wrong, but that they are singular. Although many people may feel that rough sleepers diminish the appearance of the city, those same rough sleepers may also contribute positively to the city inother unexpected ways.

Many Melbourne residents and visitors will be aware of Hosier Lane; it’s a laneway where street art has been tacitly endorsed and it has become the epicentre of Melbourne’s street art culture. It’s also perhaps Melbourne’s premiere tourist attraction.

For the past eight months Chris Honig has been in Hosier Lane every Sunday with a documentary filmmaker, collecting the stories of street artists experiencing homelessness. Of an estimated 247 rough sleepers in the city, I have encountered over a dozen regularly painting Hosier lane.

Click here for a link to the full article.  more

3rd February 2017     KEEPING WOMEN AND CHILDREN HOUSED WOMEN’S HOMELESSNESS PREVENTION PROJECT TWO YEARS, TEN CLIENT STORIES AND TEN CALLS FOR CHANGE
by Justice Connect

Justice Connect Homeless Law has recently released a detailed report based on two-years of data and insights from its Women’s Homelessness Prevention Project (WHPP), Keeping Women and Children Housed: Two years, ten client stories and ten calls for change

In its first two years, the WHPP provided legal representation (including advice, negotiation and representation at VCAT) and social work support to 102 women with 157 children who were homeless or on the brink of it. Ninety per cent of these women had experienced family violence. After two years, the WHPP has an 83% success rate for finalised matters, meaning that women avoided eviction, secured new housing without an intervening period of homelessness or resolved another tenancy legal issue (e.g. a housing debt) that was a barrier to getting safe housing. 

A WHPP client, Rema, talks about what this meant for her in this video, Stopping Homelessness Before it Starts

Informed by what they’ve learned from providing legal representation and social work support to over 100 women experiencing or at risk of homelessness, Homeless Law has identified 10 systemic changes that will reduce the risk of homelessness for Victorian women and children. You can read them here

The report states: ‘As it stands, Victoria does not have a legal system or a culture geared toward homelessness prevention and this needs to change … Evictions into homelessness must be an absolute last resort and reducing barriers to immediate re-housing an urgent priority’.

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