Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) (10:10): Pursuant to standing order 23.29, I lay on the table the final report from the Legal and Social Issues Committee on the inquiry into homelessness in Victoria, including appendices. I further present transcripts of evidence and the final report and summary booklet and I move:
That the transcripts of evidence lie on the table and the final report and summary booklet be published.
Motion agreed to.
Ms PATTEN: I move:
That the Council take note of the report.
This is a report that this Parliament will be proud of. The inquiry into homelessness epitomised the good work that this Parliament strives to do. Before I speak about it, I want to thank the committee team. Each and every one of them put so much into this inquiry in an extraordinary time. They adapted and innovated. They brought together witnesses from around the world literally through catastrophic fires, personal tragedies and a global pandemic. Thank you to all of the secretariat team and in particular Kieran Crowe, Alice Petrie, Caitlin Connally, Justine Donohue and of course Lilian Topic, who gave above and beyond. Thank you to my colleagues who contributed so much time and thought to this inquiry and report: Deputy Chair Tien Kieu, Tania Maxwell, Kaushaliya Vaghela, Wendy Lovell, Craig Ondarchie, Jane Garrett and the many, many participating members, including Enver Erdogan, Lee Tarlamis and Sheena Watt to name just a few—and of course Rod Barton, who initiated this inquiry and has been passionate throughout.
Homelessness is the deepest expression of social exclusion in our society, and it is a growing and seemingly intractable problem. When we embarked on this inquiry it was difficult to see where we would start and how we might create something that would be useful, because the issue seemed so big. But we found that it was possible, through better prevention and of course more homes. Many of the dedicated individuals and organisations working with people experiencing homelessness share this view and are determined to realise this goal. This inquiry received detailed and robust submissions from organisations working in the sector and from individuals in the community who care deeply about this issue and wish to see it addressed, and I thank them all wholeheartedly. I particularly want to thank Kate Colvin and Jenny Smith from the Council to Homeless Persons for the assistance they provided us and their in-depth evidence, and Associate Professor David MacKenzie, who provided, amongst many things, sobering information such as: national spending on health and justice services for young people experiencing homelessness each year was more than the total cost spent on homelessness accommodation and support for all ages. I also want to thank the department. This has been an extraordinary year, and I really appreciate the time that they did give us.
This report puts the voice of people who have experienced or are experiencing homelessness at the forefront. As you will read, the report has been designed to follow the paths that a person, or one of our constituents, may follow when at risk of or experiencing homelessness.
The committee has made 51 recommendations, which include of course more stable and long-term housing but also greater flexibility in the approach to the funding of homelessness programs and the recognition that housing is a human right and that it should be incorporated into Victoria’s charter of human rights. We must prioritise and strengthen early intervention measures, such as tenancy support programs and assistance for those fleeing family violence, and provide social housing that meets the needs of those experiencing homelessness. The recent report from the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System has also recognised the importance of addressing homelessness. The recommendations are bold, broad and innovative, but they are sensible and most importantly they are achievable.
We can solve homelessness and, as I said at the start, the simple cornerstones are preventing people from entering into homelessness and building more homes. I commend the report.
Fiona Patten MP
Leader of Reason
Member for Northern Metropolitan Region
Statement on report 4/3/21