The Specialist Homelessness Sector (SHS) has a proud history of supporting Victorians, at risk of or experiencing homelessness. The sector is recognised as a vital safety net for people experiencing the greatest disadvantage.
Homelessness services in Victoria work to provide: access to safe, secure and affordable housing; the support needed to help people overcome the barriers to keeping a home; and connections to the physical, personal and community resources that foster a sense of belonging. Safe and secure housing is fundamental to health and well-being. It is foundational to people’s capacity to participate in work and community activities, as well as underpinning the care of dependent children.
From the advent of the Supported Accommodation Assistance Program (SAAP) in 1985, our services have essentially been funded to provide crisis and transitional housing and support responses. However, the effectiveness of crisis and transitional responses has steadily declined in line with increasing housing costs and the reduced availability of exit points for people in housing need.
The National Partnership on Homelessness (NPAH) funding from 2017, provided the opportunity for parts of the SHS to trial and demonstrate the effectiveness of the range of contemporary best practice including housing first, rapid rehousing and early intervention to prevent tenancy loss. The capacity to implement contemporary service models has also been augmented through important investments by Victorian governments.
The Victorian Government’s support for this SHS Transition Plan, provides the sector with the opportunity to build its capacity to take this evidence based practice to scale across the state.
This Transition Plan is designed to assist the SHS, both as organisations and as a workforce, to build on its strengths and prepare to deliver the contemporary suite of services, to meet growing demand and complexity, and to achieve effective outcomes.
The plan builds on the current good practice occurring in the sector, supporting the transition the sector to a future state which is ready to take up the significant opportunities available and to meet identified challenges over the next four years.
This plan aims to harness and build on the substantial existing knowledge and capabilities of the SHS. It also recognises the important role played by government, allied sectors and the broader community in ending homelessness. Homelessness is an issue which must be tackled collectively to be effectively addressed.