The NT and Commonwealth governments have signed a one-year deal to provide $10.84 million to tackle homelessness and provide accommodation and support services for people in need.
Housing Minister Gerry McCarthy said the partnership would provide funding certainty for homelessness accommodation and case management services to June 30, 2018, while a longer-term funding arrangement is discussed with the Commonwealth.
“Good housing is a right for all Territorians, yet sadly the Territory has the highest rate of homelessness in the nation,” Mr McCarthy said.
Katherine’s homeless population is more than twice the Northern Territory average and 31 times the national average rate.
Researchers estimate one in four Indigenous people in Katherine are homeless.
There is a two to six year waiting list for public housing in Katherine.
“It’s critical we support some of the most vulnerable people in our community to access safe and secure accommodation and help them get back on their feet – every Territorian needs a good home to achieve a good education, good health and good community outcomes,” Mr McCarthy said.
The agreement will focus on support for women and children escaping domestic violence and youth facing challenging times.
“Investing in homelessness services can support Territorians before they end up sleeping rough – it’s the right thing to do and ultimately benefits us all,” Mr McCarthy said.
“We rely on support from the Commonwealth to reduce homelessness in the Territory, which is almost 15 times the national average.
“I thank the Commonwealth for partnering with us to help people access emergency accommodation and support services."
Federal Assistant Minister for Social Services and Multicultural Affairs Zed Seselja said this partnership is evidence of the need for all levels of Government to work together to address homelessness.
“This funding delivers on the Government’s commitment to provide $117.2 million in a transitional National Partnership on Homelessness to allow the Commonwealth, State, and Territory Governments to negotiate the new National Housing and Homelessness Agreement as announced in the 2017-18 Federal Budget,” Assistant Minister Seselja said.
“The new $1.5 billion agreement delivers the certainty homelessness service providers need to continue to help those in need in our community. The NHHA will include indexed and ongoing funding, commencing in July next year and will provide an extra $375 million for homelessness services from 2018 to 2021,” Senator Seselja said.
The Department of Housing and Community Development is developing an interagency NT Homelessness Strategy and a five year action plan to commence in July 2018, to improve pathways out of homelessness for Territorians.
Welcoming today’s announcement, NT Shelter’s executive officer, Peter McMillan, said the organisation was encouraged to see collaboration between the governments and their commitment to negotiate a funding partnership agreement that will make a difference to the lives of people who are homeless and most vulnerable.
NT Shelter supports the announcement by the establishment of an interagency to progress the development and implementation of an NT Homelessness Strategy and accompanying five year action plan.
“All people in the Northern Territory should be concerned and saddened by the fact that we have the highest rate of homelessness in Australia, with a rate at 15 times the national average.” Mr McMillan said.
“Homelessness is a complex issue, with many underlying causes and factors contributing to the problem and patterns of homelessness. We welcome the opportunity to work with the NT Government, community organisations and others to ensure we can address the problem in an informed and effective manner, in order to make a tangible impact for people who are homeless and in need.”