Discussion paper

Roles and responsibilities in housing and homelessness: reform of the Federation White Paper issues paper 2

Housing Central-local government relations Homelessness Federalism Australia
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This issues paper is one in a series of issues papers being developed to inform the Commonwealth Government’s White Paper on the Reform of the Federation. The White Paper is seeking to clarify roles and responsibilities between levels of government, to ensure that, as far as possible, each level of government is sovereign in its own sphere. Specific reform proposals across a range of government activities, including housing and homelessness, will be identified in the Green Paper on the Reform of the Federation, which will be released in the second half of 2015.

What does this paper do?

This paper looks specifically at the roles and responsibilities of the Commonwealth and the States and Territories in relation to housing assistance and homelessness services. The paper has three parts. The evolution of government involvement in housing and homelessness is set out in Part One. Part Two examines pressures on current government housing assistance and homelessness arrangements. Questions for consideration are set out in Part Three, structured around the six principles in the White Paper’s Terms of Reference:

1. accountability for performance in delivering outcomes, but without imposing unnecessary reporting burdens and overly prescriptive controls;

2. subsidiarity, whereby responsibility lies with the lowest level of government possible, allowing flexible approaches to improving outcomes;

3. national interest considerations, so that where it is appropriate, a national approach is adopted in preference to diversity across jurisdictions;

4. equity, efficiency and effectiveness of service delivery, including a specific focus on service delivery in the regions;

5. durability (that is, the allocation of roles and responsibilities should be appropriate for the longer-term); and

6. fiscal sustainability at both Commonwealth and State and Territory levels.

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