QUESTION: HOMELESSNESS (24 September 2019)

The Hon. J.S. LEE (15:08): My question is to the Minister for Human Services regarding the state government's work to address homelessness in South Australia. Can the minister please provide an update to the council about the appointment of the new head of Homelessness Sector Integration in the South Australian Housing Authority?

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (Minister for Human Services) (15:08): I thank the honourable member for her question. It gives me great pleasure to advise that Mr Ian Cox, who is the CEO of the Hutt St Centre, is being appointed to a new role from 21 October in the Office of Homelessness Sector Integration, which will work closely with the non-government sector to implement homelessness reforms.


Mr Cox is well known to many South Australians. I acknowledge that there are members of this chamber and the other who attend the annual Walk a Mile in My Boots fundraising event to raise vital funds for the Hutt St Centre. He has worked at that centre for some 16 years and in the homelessness sector for 25 years. He has had a very key role in driving for reform in South Australia in terms of the Adelaide Zero Project, which is focused on the CBD and North Adelaide, where the goal is for functional zero homelessness by 2020.

In that, he was instrumental in bringing Dame Louise Casey from the Institute of Global Homelessness to South Australia, which really started the kick-off for the Zero Project, the rather incredible partnership that exists between the non-government sector providers and the South Australian government. He has also been responsible for the Aspire project, which is the first social impact bond in South Australia, which focuses on a 'housing first' intervention model, which gives them stable accommodation as well as access to education and training to help them get a job and maintain employment. It is in its second year of operation and it has seen 297 participants enrolled.

What we know through our engagement in terms of the development of our Housing and Homelessness Strategy is that, while there are resources in the system, we think that there can be much better coordination. There hasn't been a reform of the homelessness sector for what I understand is over 10 years. There are improved ways of looking at homelessness. I recently attended the Institute of Global Homelessness conference in Glasgow with stakeholders from South Australia, including Louise Miller Frost from Catherine House, Mr Cox, staff of the Zero Project, and some Housing Authority staff, and I also spoke to providers in the City of London.

The institute's experience is that people have capacity. We are interested in looking at rapid rehousing for people, ensuring that those who have vulnerabilities have access to appropriate wraparound services, but acknowledging that people can use their capacity in many ways. A number can be employed, and I have certainly met people, young people particularly, who are going to school and in university.

We need to work on people's strengths. I am very pleased that Mr Cox is talking about engaging people with lived experience to guide our services forward because they understand what works and what doesn't and will be very useful in shaping services as they go forward.

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Leader of the Opposition) (15:12): Supplementary to the minister arising from the answer to the question: do staff working in this particular area of the minister's department, or in fact any other area, require a working with children check or police checks?

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (Minister for Human Services) (15:12): My understanding is that those who work in the youth sector certainly will. I can double-check as to the other staff as well, but, generally speaking, it is those people who specifically work with children and young people who need working with children checks. I will seek a response from the department in relation to other parts of the sector. Also, just while I am thinking on my feet, more than likely people in the domestic violence sector will require them as well, because that often involves children. I will double-check what the situation is and provide a more detailed response for the member.

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Leader of the Opposition) (15:13): Final and further supplementary arising from the answer from the homelessness strategy and the minister's department: if people in this area of the department or any other area do not have the required working with children checks, what is the response of the department? Do people lose their job? How is it remedied?

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (Minister for Human Services) (15:13): I am not quite sure that I understood what the supplementary was, whether the member is intimating that they should have a check and they don't have one. I will try to get some more details from the honourable member and try to respond to what I think he has asked.

The Hon. I.K. HUNTER (15:14): Supplementary arising from the minister's original answer: who was responsible for selecting Mr Cox for this role?

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (Minister for Human Services) (15:14): As I outlined on radio last week, there was a competitive process which was, I think, undertaken by the department. Whether there was a recruitment agency or not involved, I am not 100 per cent sure, but it was a competitive process and I understand it was advertised in the usual processes.

The PRESIDENT: Supplementary, the Hon. Mr Hunter.

The Hon. I.K. HUNTER (15:14): The minister might not have this information so I am happy for her to bring it back: how many applicants were considered for this process, how many applicants applied for the position, and how many were shortlisted and considered in the final decision-making?

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (Minister for Human Services) (15:14): I will get those details for the honourable member and bring that back.