Mr BARTON (Eastern Metropolitan) (12:16): My question is to Minister Stitt, representing the Minister for Housing. It is reported that the federal government has not renewed part of their homelessness funding package beyond 30 June. The funding reduction consists of the loss of $100 million over four years and will have serious ramifications for the community. Homelessness services are already forced to turn away a huge number of people in need. This funding reduction could result in frontline staff losing their jobs, put more people at risk of unstable housing and exacerbate those sleeping rough. We cannot let this happen. Demand for these services is ever increasing. The COVID-19 support payments have ended, and many are still struggling to find work. With the moratorium on evictions having also ended at the end of March, rates of homelessness will increase further. So I ask the minister: what is the government doing to ensure this federal funding shortfall will not have significant consequences for those in need of homelessness services in Victoria?
Ms STITT (Western Metropolitan—Minister for Workplace Safety, Minister for Early Childhood) (12:17): I thank Mr Barton for his question on this very important matter and for his ongoing commitment to ending homelessness. I will certainly refer this question to the Minister for Housing for a response in accordance with the standing orders.
Response received 26 May 2021 – Hon. Ingrid Stitt
The Victorian Government appreciate your concerns about the possible end to the Commonwealth funding contribution to the Social and Community Services Equal Remuneration Order(SACS ERO) under the National Housing and Homelessness
Agreement (NHHA) on 30 June 2021.
Victoria has consistently advocated to the Commonwealth Government that they continue their ERO contribution to ensure gender pay parity in the homelessness sector.
On 8 May 2021, the Commonwealth announced an additional $124.7 million through the NHHA to fund the SACS ERO. Victoria welcomes Commonwealth funding for the SACS ERO, however notes that this announcement provides only two years of funding for 2021-22 and 2022-23.
The requirement for non-profit homelessness service providers to continue paying the SACS ERO award rate will continue past the two years of funding announced. Given this, the Commonwealth should commit ongoing funding for the SACS ERO to ensure that service providers have funding certainty and can plan staffing levels and programs.
Victoria will continue to advocate to the Commonwealth for ongoing SACS ERO funding. Should this funding have not been announced, Victoria would have lost an estimated $23 million in 2021-22 which is passed on directly to service providers. Without this funding, it is estimated that there would have been 6,700 less households assisted each year with
critical support, including families experiencing homelessness, and women and children escaping family violence in need ofcrisis accommodation.
Victoria will continue to support the sector with our full share of SACS ERO funding.