The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I seek leave to make an explanation before asking the minister representing the Minister for Social Justice a question about emergency housing for homeless youth.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: It was recently reported in the City Messenger that the demand for crisis housing has grown significantly over the past 12 months. Last financial year, 848 young people were referred to St John’s Youth Services, of which 705 were accepted, an increase from 560 for the previous financial year. Nearly one-third of clients who left St John’s never found housing and slept on the streets, in squats or in other unknown locations. The grim story does not end there, with around half the clients returning to St John’s within three to six months due to placements breaking down from lack of money and support and absence of independent living skills. In an effort to address this epidemic, St John’s has identified a model of housing called foyer accommodation but has been unable to secure government support for this project.
Foyer accommodation consists of secure apartments linked to training and development opportunities to develop skills and facilitate inclusion in the work force and community. My questions for the minister are:
1. What is the government doing to address the inadequacy of emergency housing for homeless youth?
2. How does the government plan to address the problems causing housing placements to break down as described?
3. Has the government investigated the St John’s housing proposal of foyer accommodation?
4. What is the government’s opinion as to the benefits of this program for the community?
5. What training and education support is the government providing to homeless youth to enable their successful integration into the community and work force?
6. What impact has the unaffordability of the private housing sector had on housing for young people?
The Hon. T.G. ROBERTS (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation): I will refer those important questions to the minister in another place and bring back a reply.
Thursday 14 April 2005
In reply to Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (19 February 2004).
The Hon. T.G. ROBERTS: The Minister for Housing has advised that:
1. Youth homelessness is addressed through the Supported Accommodation Assistance Program (SAAP), which is managed by the Department for Families and Communities (DFC), through the South Australian Housing Trust (SAHT). Approximately $11m of SAAP funding is provided to agencies offering services specifically for young people, including $3.7m to inner city agencies, $5.5m to metropolitan services and $1.8m to rural areas.
SAAP provides a number of accommodation and support options for young people that can be accessed through the central referral service, Trace-a-Place'. Emergency Accommodation Support South Australia was recently established to bring an integrated emergency response to homelessness across the youth, domestic violence and family sectors. This incorporates the work of Trace-a-Place.
In addition, the SAHT manages a Direct Lease Youth Priority Scheme providing medium term accommodation (up to 18 months) for young people aged 16 to 25 years who are experiencing severe difficulties in securing or maintaining suitable accommodation.
During 2003, 224 young people were housed under this scheme.
The Aboriginal Housing Authority (AHA), in conjunction with Children, Youth and Family Services, established a facility to accommodate Aboriginal youth on remand. Known as Marni Wodli or the Good House', accommodation is provided for young people who have no alternative housing when released from jail. This accommodation includes a live-in support worker who coordinates services and programs at the centre. The support workers help young people establish networks to assist them once they have accessed alternative accommodation. $125,000 in capital and $20,000 in recurrent funding has been committed to this project.
Reducing homelessness (including youth homelessness) is a key priority of this Government's Social Inclusion Board, which completed its inquiry into homelessness and presented its report Everyone's Responsibility – Reducing Homelessness in South Australia to the Government in July 2003.
In August 2003, the Government made a formal response to the recommendations in the report, acknowledging the issues and detailing a 14 Point Immediate Action Plan to address these. In 2003-04, $12m was committed over four years to implement the action plan. In 2004-05 a further $8 million over four years was committed for this work. The action points in relation to young people include responses to homeless students and accompanying children.
The Government has recently provided $550,000 to fund a supported housing facility for young people who are low functioning due to learning disabilities and who are homeless. The young people will be supported daily by workers from Centacare Community Services and Centacare Disability Services who would develop an appropriate support package to assist each young person to transition into longer term stable housing.
2. Young people exiting supported accommodation services often experience difficulty in making a successful transition to independent living. In addition to the Social Inclusion Board's Homelessness Plan referred to in the response to question 1, programs are being provided by the SAHT.
The SAHT, in collaboration with non-government organisations, initiated a Supported Tenancies Demonstration Program in 2002, to support SAHT tenants who are at risk of losing their tenancy. A total of 87 people were assisted including 48 (55%) young people (under 25 years of age). It also provides support options to facilitate successful tenancies, provides referrals to appropriate agencies and enhances the living skills of young SAHT tenants in Noarlunga, Marion, Port Adelaide and the Parks areas.
Following the success of the Demonstration Program, I am pleased to advise that a broader rollout of the Supported Tenancy Program has now commenced. A total of five non-government agencies are delivering tenancy support programs across seven regions in South Australia at a cost of $785 000. This initiative is being undertaken in partnership with the Aboriginal Housing Authority in two regions, allowing support services to be provided directly to Indigenous tenants.
The Transitional Housing Project, a partnership with Centacare and the Service to Youth Council (SYC), provides supported accommodation to homeless young people in the Murraylands and develops service models for further evaluation. A service agreement has been entered into with Centacare and SYC, and the SAHT is providing specialised property management services to designated properties. $37,000 from Commonwealth State Housing Agreement funds, and $111,000 in SAAP funding has been allocated by the State Government to this project.
In addition, SAHT Regional Services (Country and Metropolitan) are making available grants of up to $2000 to assist community agencies to provide facilities and programs for disadvantaged customer groups, including young people. Examples of funded projects include The Rental Kit' which provides tenancy survival information in a youth-friendly format and Real Life', an independent living skills training program developed and delivered by young people, for young people in rural areas.
3. I have recently met with St John's Youth Service (SJYS) and they have recently re-submitted their inner-city foyer proposal for consideration.
Improving outcomes for young people involves complex service delivery issues. How tenancies and services would be managed and delivered within a foyer based arrangement within inner-city Adelaide need to be worked through and resolved before proposals such as that from SJYS can be properly considered.
Preferred exit point strategies involve encouraging young people to return to their region of origin and participate in outreach programs linking them to employment and training opportunities.
I have been advised that the SAHT has contacted SJYS for further discussions on the model and expect that a second formal submission addressing the aforementioned concerns will be submitted to the Department.
4. The foyer model originates from the UK and Europe. The model stresses the holistic nature of the links between young people with housing, education, employment and their communities through:
Living – by providing a safe and stable living environment;
Learning – supporting the development of life skills and education opportunities; and
Earning – providing links to employment opportunities.
It is seen as a way of developing life skills, esteem, networks, breaking the no home no job no home' cycle of youth disadvantage and making a successful transition to independence. However, the foyer model is not a model for crisis or emergency accommodation.
An example of the foyer model has been recently implemented at the Miller Live n' Learn Campus project in NSW. I am advised that the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute is conducting an evaluation of this project and I look forward to seeing that evaluation.
It is important to note that the Adelaide metropolitan youth SAAP service is unique in that it is one system. Other cities in Australia do not have a whole of system' response. This means that if a new service model such as the foyer model is to be introduced, consideration must be given to how it will interact with the rest of the SAAP system.
The majority of youth agencies agree that the best option for supporting young homeless people is for them to be returned to their place of origin as quickly as possible, not concentrated in one place and potentially exposed to some of the less positive aspects of the inner city.
At present, the SAAP Outreach model is considered the best way to work with young homeless people to achieve Living, Learning and Earning outcomes.
5. Training and education support is principally a matter for the Minister for Employment, Training and Further Education. However, it is clearly understood that there is a critical relationship between successful housing outcomes and other whole-of-life factors.
South Australia has finalised arrangements under the Bilateral Commonwealth State Housing Agreement. This Agreement will concentrate on the interaction between housing assistance and workforce participation and the implementation of strategies to maximise workforce participation.
However, there are a number of programs that are aimed at supporting young people who may be homeless or at risk of becoming homeless to keep them in education or training or access work opportunities including Paralowie Youth Service, the West Coast Building Training Initiative and the Port Lincoln Aboriginal Community Council Youth Housing Project.
6. The Housing Industry Prospects Forum (September 2003) reports an overall vacancy rate of around 2.8%, which is around the market equilibrium of 3%. This is likely to result in continued upward pressure on rents for lower priced properties but downward pressure for the higher priced properties.
In the September 2003 quarter, the average weekly rental for 3-bedroom houses and 2-bedroom units were $208 and $159 respectively in the Adelaide Statistical Division according to the Office of Consumer and Business Affairs. Annual increases in average weekly rentals were 6% for 3-bedroom houses and 3% for 2-bedroom units in real terms, i.e. adjusted for inflation.
Rental assistance is available to eligible South Australians from the Commonwealth, through Centrelink.
The SAHT also provides financial assistance to households experiencing instability, poverty or difficulty accessing the private rental market under its Private Rental Assistance Program. Assistance is provided in the form of bonds, bond guarantees, rent in advance/ arrears, and rent relief in certain circumstances. $14.3m was expended in 2002-03 to assist 31,800 people and $14.7m has been allocated to administer the program and assist the same number of people in 2003-04.
In 2002-03, 13,610 people received rental assistance through SAHT (rent in advance or rent in arrears) to the value of $2,218,562, of which $621,239 was provided in assistance to 4,441 (33%) young people. 14,843 people received bond assistance to the value of $7,086,123, of which $2,295,092 was provided for 5,336 (36%) young people. In addition, 126 young people (5%) received an average of $18.70 per week in rent relief.