Funding to the tune of $26 million has been committed in the ACT’s 2021-22 Budget to back specialist homeless support services, marking the first increase in base funding for such services in almost a decade.
Over 1,800 Canberrans were registered with homelessness services in June this year according to the latest data on homelessness recorded by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. More than 1,000 of those people were women.
The CEO of YWCA Canberra, which provides specialist services to people experiencing homelessness, Frances Crimmins welcomed the funding. She said it showed the territory government acknowledged the crucial role of service providers in helping some of Canberra’s most vulnerable people.
“Specialist Homelessness Services provide tailored solutions to each person’s unique situation, to empower them to find a journey to housing stability,” Crimmins said.
“YWCA Canberra is pleased to have the additional support and stability offered by the funding package to continue to support the community with housing and homelessness services.”
She added that the money would help some essential services that were introduced to support those in need during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“With the ramifications of the COVID-19 crisis continuing to play out, we expect the demand for these services to continue to outweigh capacity for quite a while yet,” Crimmins said.
The new funding package will include money to help community organisations providing support to the homeless community also meet wages to pay their staff and a commitment to 2.5% indexation.
ACT minister for homelessness and housing services Rebecca Vassarotti noted that the additional funding was long overdue.
“This base funding rate has not increased over approximately the past nine years, so this is a significant commitment to help the sector deliver early intervention, crisis support and improve outcomes for people at risk of or experiencing homelessness,” Vassarotti said.
“This funding builds on recent investments, including $1.9 million in the 2020-21 Budget for five specialist homelessness programs in response to COVID-19 as part of the government’s commitment to increase the capacity of the sector.”