21 Feb 2023, 12:20
Legislative Council Victoria, Melbourne

David ETTERSHANK (Western Metropolitan):

My question is for Minister Blandthorn, representing the Minister for Housing in the other place, and relates to the homelessness sector. Homelessness and housing services across Australia have traditionally been funded through the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement.

However, the agreement ends on 30 June this year, with the October 2022 federal Labor budget ceasing future funding for the sector’s equal remuneration order. This represents an effective cut of $23.6 million to homelessness services in Victoria.

The sad result will be a rapid increase in Victorians forced to sleep on Victorian streets or in cars or couch surf. This is a Victorian problem requiring a Victorian solution. My question to the minister is: how will this government bridge this urgent services and funding gap?

Lizzie BLANDTHORN (Western Metropolitan – Minister for Disability, Ageing and Carers, Minister for Child Protection and Family Services):

Thank you, Mr Ettershank, for that question. It is obviously a question for the Minister for Housing, and I would be very pleased to pass that question on to the Minister for Housing for him to provide a response in line with the prescribed standing orders.


I thank the minister for her response. As the current cost-of-living pressures exacerbate the affordable housing crisis, women over the age of 55 are Victoria’s fastest growing cohort of the homeless, so I ask: how is the minister addressing this immediate and urgent short-term need?


Again I am more than happy to pass this question to the Minister for Housing. Obviously the question is in relation to homelessness and is a question in line under the prescribed standing orders for the Minister for Housing. I would say that the minister, I am sure, will be pleased to answer the question and provide you with the details you requested.

  *****  The President ordered a written response for both questions  *****

Written Answer
Received: 24 February 2023
Hon Colin Brooks MP
(Minister for Housing, Minister for Multicultural Affairs)

The Commonwealth and state and territory governments have joint responsibility for housing and homelessness and this is reflected in the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement (NHHA). We are working with the Commonwealth to secure an extension to the existing NHHA and look forward to discussing a new agreement that benefits Victorians.

The Andrews Labor Government has made record investments in homelessness support. Women aged over 55  represent around 6% of the 102,000 Victorians who received support from specialist homelessness services and as best as possible are funded proportionate to cohort needs and presentations.

Women over 55 can access housing and support through a wide variety of programs the Victorian Government funds. Services dedicated to this group in our community include:

  • Marrageil Baggarrook; a short term accommodation facility for older women operated by Uniting VicTas
  • specialist services and housing for older Victorians provided by Wintringham;
  • YWCA housing program ‘The Lakehouse’ supports older women with housing and case management to address health issues
  • sites dedicated to providing homelessness and housing support services to women at McAuley House in Footscray and in Ballarat
  • assertive outreach across Victoria and specific targeted programs such as Womens Outreach Program in Dandenong.

There are other housing and homlessness programs women over 55 can also access, including the Private Rental Assistance Program (PRAP), which provides flexible brokerage and practical support to assist recipients with securing or maintaining access to private rental assistance. In addition, women over 55 can access PRAP Plus, which provides for increased support for some households accessing private rental that require additional practical support to establish or maintain their housing.

The Labor Government has invested over $230 million to support over 2,000 households through the From Homelessness To A Home and Homes for Families programs. These programs provide housing and wraparound support to people who were accommodated in hotels during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic. There are 45 women over 55 currently being supported by these programs.

Through the Big Housing Build, the Victorian Government has funded Audrey Rainsford supportive housing in Carlton; a 60-bed long term housing site for older Victorians. It opened in 2021 and is housing a minimum of 50 per cent women. More broadly, many of the more than 12,000 new homes in the Big Housing Build will be allocated to women over 55 through the normal operation of the Victorian Housing Register. This includes Big Housing Build homes that are being constructed across Melbourne’s West, such as those being delivered by Women’s Housing Limited.

I note that across the Brimbank, Hobsons Bay, Hume, Maribyrnong, Melton, Moonee Valley and Wyndham Local Government Areas in Melbourne’s West, the Big Housing Build and other Homes Victoria capital programs have completed over 315 new homes with a further 1,450 homes underway – representing an investment of $760 million. In addition, over 3,500 homes have or in the process of having maintenance and/or upgrades undertaken, representing a further investment of $53 million.


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