Concerns raised about the loss of experienced local homelessness services

People facing homelessness across the state could be left with services lacking the necessary experience and connections to the community under the NSW Government’s recently announced funding packages, warns Jan Barham, Greens MP and spokesperson on Housing.

“I’m alarmed by what I’m hearing from service providers and community organisations across NSW. Helping people who are homeless or at risk at homelessness requires the expertise and trust that can only come from close engagement with local communities.

“I’m concerned that the need to retain community connections and experience has been lost in the decision-making process, and that the service changes that are already beginning will leave some people without the same accessibility to specialised local supports,” Ms Barham said.

The NSW Government’s Going Home, Staying Home funding packages were announced last Friday, following a two-stage tender process. In making the announcement, the Minister for Family and Community Services reinstated some funding for Inner Sydney specialist services in response to expressions of concern by service providers, politicians and the public.

“Since the packages were announced I’ve heard concerns about the outcomes and the process. It appears that local knowledge wasn’t adequately utilised in the assessment of tenders, resulting in the loss of experienced specialist services. What I’m hearing is anxiety about the future of homelessness services throughout regional NSW, as well as in the city.

“In just a few days I’ve been presented with concerns that new services may lack much-needed local connections, that some organisations who weren’t successful with all their tender applications may not be viable, and that some service packages won’t meet the needs of local communities.

“I’ll be continuing to gather feedback from providers and communities, and have indicated to the Minister in a meeting this week that will forward those concerns and seek responses.”

Ms Barham also noted that the looming end of the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness risked leaving homelessness services underfunded into the future.

“The Federal Government has reduced the funding beyond 1 July 2014 and there is no ongoing agreement between the states and the Commonwealth. Despite the NSW Government’s claim that they’ve increased funding across the state, without a partnership we will see a decline in overall funding and reduced support to the vulnerable,” Ms Barham concluded.

For Further Comment, please contact Jan Barham directly on 0447 853 891