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ACT Government to centralise homelessness services

THE ACT’s 46 homelessness services will be streamlined through one central system by the end of the year, according to the Minister for Housing, Joy Burch.

Ms Burch said the Central Intake System (CIS) will provide a more efficient service for people in need of emergency accommodation and ensure they only need to contact one agency to gain access to all services across Canberra.

The CIS is part of the Australian Government’s plan to halve homelessness in Australia by 2020.

Travis Gilbert, from Homelessness Australia, said there was an accommodation shortage in the ACT and more thanr half of those in need are turned away.

“55% of people that seek accommodation are turned away each night,” Mr Gilbert said. “That was what last year’s data showed.”

Ms Burch said it was hard to rely on the data as it may show that someone was turned away from one refuge when they were able to find crisis accommodation with another service. She said the CIS will provide more accurate data.

Ms Burch said the ACT Government was also addressing long-term accommodation, with $93.5 million being invested into public housing.

Mr Gilbert welcomed the Government’s decision to address long-term housing solutions.

“It’s focused on medium and long-term affordable housing outcomes for people who are homeless,” Mr Gilbert said. “So it’s different to the response that has been in the past, which has been to pro-vide temporary accommodation. It’s looking at medium and long-term solutions that are housing based, so that will hopefully have an impact in the next few years.”

Ms Burch said the Government was also addressing issues such as mental illness and domestic vio-lence.

“Homelessness is broader than just a roof over head,” Ms Burch said. “We need to look at the causes.” Mr Gilbert said the main cause of homelessness was domestic violence.

“I think we need a greater emphasis on mental health and addressing the causes and the drivers of homelessness,” Mr Gilbert said. “A greater focus on domestic and family violence would be good.”

There were 1364 people experiencing homelessness in the ACT on census night in 2006 and more than half of them were aged under 25.

“Very few of them were actually found to be sleeping on the street,” Mr Gilbert said. “It was only 78 people out of that amount, half of them were with friends and relatives and about a quarter were in homelessness services.”

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