05th March 2024 12:09
Victorian Legislative Council, Melbourne

Rachel PAYNE (South-Eastern Metropolitan) (12:08): 

My question is for the Minister for Housing, Minister Shing. The Council to Homeless Persons budget submission asks this government to commit $1.6 million in 2024–25 and $6.9 million over four years to continue lapsing funding for Pride in Place. Pride in Place does incredibly important work for the LGBTIQA+ people who are homeless, at risk of homelessness or living in housing that is unsafe, insecure or too expensive.

We know from La Trobe University’s Writing Themselves in 4 report that almost a quarter of LGBTIQA+ people have experienced homelessness. My question is: will the minister ensure there is funding for Pride in Place in this May budget so that they can continue their essential work to provide access to homelessness support for LGBTIQA+ people?

Harriet SHING (Eastern Victoria – Minister for Housing, Minister for Water, Minister for Equality) (12:09): 

Thank you very much for that question and thank you for your ongoing interest in and passion for advocating for our communities and for the very real challenges, disadvantages and lesser outcomes that are experienced by LGBTIQA+ people over the entirety of our lives.

We know that housing, along with employment, along with access to services, along with the way in which take-home pay is calculated, is lesser for LGBTIQA+ people.

There are a couple of dimensions to this particular question which go to both the housing portfolio and the equality portfolio, so what I might do is perhaps combine them as a bit of a shandy, if that suits you – and of course I am very happy to provide you with further briefings on this matter.

On the homelessness fund and the work that we are doing, this is as much about partnerships across the state–federal interface as anything else. Just last week I attended a ministerial council of housing ministers, and homelessness was one of the key areas of discussion around the work that is needed to be done and maintained across the funding for homelessness.

We know that different states allocate and use the funding from NHHA, the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement, which is currently in the process of being renegotiated with a view to not having that gap at the end of the financial year.

Pride in Place and the work that we are doing are also consistent with Pride in Our Future, the LGBTIQA+ strategy for 2022–32.

This is a 10-year plan which also goes directly to the importance of ensuring that LGBTIQA+ people have access to a range of supports. You would be aware that it was a couple of years ago that then Minister for Housing and I, as Parliamentary Secretary for Equality, met at Drummond Street Services to announce the pilot for housing and homelessness services in both Melbourne and Ballarat and that this is intended to make sure that we have culturally safe spaces and that we are meeting the service needs and the care needs of people who require ongoing and wraparound care.

Transitional housing is another part of this, and there is a big interface with LGBTIQA+ community members. We know that that also interfaces with a range of supports in intersectionality, which is a big part of what we are doing across homelessness and also across equality to make sure that LGBTIQA+ people who are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, who are victim-survivors of family violence, who are young people, have access to those wraparound supports even if it is within the broader remit of service delivery and programs as part of that ongoing investment in homelessness.

We also know that as part of the ongoing engagement it is important that we do not see any cut to homelessness funding from the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth have been really clear that they do not want to see that funding go backwards. I cannot give you commitments about the state budget, but of course I am really happy to continue to update you as things progress.

Thank you for your advocacy.

Rachel PAYNE (South-Eastern Metropolitan) (12:12): 

I thank Minister Shing for her response, particularly the response around wraparound services, which sort of leads into my supplementary. In the midst of the current housing crisis, intake services like Pride in Place provide essential support and drive prioritisation.

Unfortunately they are under immense pressure as they face a tidal wave of requests for support. With limited staffing and funding, many people are either turned away or cannot get in contact with the service to begin with.

So my supplementary is: will the minister commit to increasing their intake response, acknowledging that these intake services are facing significant increased demand?

Harriet SHING (Eastern Victoria – Minister for Housing, Minister for Water, Minister for Equality) (12:13): 

Thank you, Ms Payne. You have touched on significant and increased demand, which is at the heart of all of the work that we are doing. Within the wheelhouse of housing, obviously homelessness, crisis support and accommodation and transitional housing are part of that, but without housing to go to, we do not see a move from those initial and response acute settings into something more permanent that enables those areas of disadvantage to be substantively and durably addressed. Again, the measure of support is as much about frontline service delivery as anything else.

Within the public service we have made sure that frontline service delivery is not impacted. Of course more needs to be done, not just across this area but also, beyond Pride in Place, across the other initiatives that we are doing to support marginalised communities.

Again, I cannot give you the answers in terms of what might be in this year’s budget, but of course I am happy to sit down with you and also with a range of other networks –the Western Homelessness Network I met with just last week. We continue to work with service providers to talk through what this will mean after the budget is handed down in May.


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