Mr BARTON (Eastern Metropolitan) (10:02): The Council to Homeless Persons held its national conference earlier this month, with local and international experts joining in discussions and lessons on their struggles to end homelessness.
A strong theme of the conference was prevention—putting energy, funding and services into stopping homelessness before it happens. There was a strong focus on youth, Indigenous people and women escaping domestic violence, and the pitfalls of the national disability insurance scheme in supporting those at risk. Keeping people in their homes or finding appropriate housing for families and young people in an increasingly expensive and restrictive private rental market is a daily battle for workers in these areas. We all know that our social housing is desperately lacking. The conference reiterated for my team that homelessness is a much bigger problem than just rough sleepers in the inner city and that solutions like more hostels and blow-up beds in empty carparks offer short-term solutions to only a few.
The focus now needs to be broader—on prevention and on wrapping services around communities to make sure everybody has a home and the support they need to stay there. I am pleased to see the submissions and responses to the parliamentary inquiry into homelessness, and I urge our community groups and individuals to keep them coming. We can all be part of the solution to end homelessness in Victoria.