The homelessness service system in Australia comprises national intergovernmental agreements around homelessness services, state and territory strategies, and over 1,500 Specialist Homelessness Services (SHS) that provide a range of services to support clients who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Australian governments fund a range of SHS to support people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. These services are delivered by non-government organisations including agencies specialising in delivering services to specific target groups (such as people escaping domestic violence), as well as those that provide more generic services to people facing housing crises. SHS support those who have become homeless and those who are at imminent risk of homelessness.
Australia does not have a national homelessness strategy. It does, however, have a funding agreement between the Australian government and the State and Territory governments. This agreement recognises the Commonwealth and the states’ mutual interest in improving outcomes across the housing spectrum, including outcomes for Australians who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, and the need to work together to achieve those outcomes. It has long been recognised that a more connected, integrated and responsive service system is required to address homelessness. A system with improved links between homelessness services and mainstream or universal welfare services is desirable.
This inquiry into an effective homelessness service system addressed the overall research question - how can the homelessness service system be redesigned and implemented to be effective for different groups across the life course?