Auditor-General: Addressing Homelessness -- Partnerships and Plans (20.02.2013)

Written on the 7 March 2013

I too am pleased to speak on the Victorian Auditor-General's report Addressing Homelessness -- Partnerships and Plans dated February 2013. I will also speak on the two initiatives and what was formerly the initiative under the previous government, the national partnership agreement on homelessness (NPAH), as compared to the current government's initiative, the Victorian homelessness action plan 2011-15.


In her contribution Ms Mikakos spoke about the legacy of the previous government. This report reiterates that legacy and is quite damning in relation to a number of aspects under the NPAH, which commenced in 2008. In particular I draw to the attention of the chamber some issues referred to in the report, including meeting reporting requirements. Page xi of the report states:


The accuracy of the Victorian NPAH performance reporting cannot be assured. For 2009-10, DHS used an informal data collection system that relied on verbal reports. For all the years of NPAH-VIP, DHS has not verified any of the data, which is self-reported by funded service providers. For the years 2009-10 and 2010-11, reported figures are largely rounded to a 5 or zero. DHS has not provided an explanation for this.


I would not have thought that was a very comprehensive endorsement of the previous administration in the area of homelessness and various other areas for which the previous government was responsible. It is a complex area. Homelessness has a significant impact on many people within our community, and we could all do much more to address the issue.


The current Minister for Housing, Ms Lovell, should be commended for her action.


In contrast to the NPAH, the Victorian homelessness action plan concentrates on early intervention. The conclusion on page 30 of the report states:


As international and Australian evidence shows, it is socially responsible and more cost effective to intervene early to prevent people from becoming homeless. There is also a clear need to change approaches to homelessness services.
That is exactly what the minister has done. She has focused on early intervention and implemented that policy, and it is having real results. Page 30 of the report goes on to comprehensively outline various initiatives. I do not have enough time to go into the overall detail, but it reiterates this government's approach to homelessness.


In her contribution on this report, Ms Mikakos spoke of the minister's media release. That media release talks about the differences between the initiatives of the previous government and this government, but it also reiterates what this report has said. There were a number of recommendations in relation to tackling this issue, and the media release states:


The department has already taken a number of actions to tackle the issues raised in the report, including:

  • a major restructure of the entire department undertaken in December last year, which will improve provision of services, accountability and responsiveness across the board;
  • establishing a dedicated performance, regulation and reporting unit to improve the department's reporting processes; and
  • an independent evaluation of the remaining NPAH initiatives, to be completed by June this year.


There were some issues with reporting in the former program. The department has accepted all three of the recommendations relating to the Department of Human Services in the Auditor-General's report. I would again like to commend Minister Lovell for instigating such a program. It is obviously having real results.

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