Today I asked the Minister for Housing what the Governments plan is for accommodating the sudden increase of those experiencing homelessness?
Mr BARTON (Eastern Metropolitan) (12:40): My question is to the Leader of the Government, representing the Minister for Housing. As many of you are aware, I have the privilege to be participating in the inquiry into homelessness in Victoria. Homelessness affects a wide range of individuals from an array of circumstances, such as fleeing domestic violence or job loss, and encompasses those in inadequate or unstable housing as well as those sleeping rough. Sadly, many Victorians often find themselves only one or two pay cheques away from homelessness. What is shocking is that during the public hearings for the inquiry into homelessness in Victoria it was advised that for every 1 per cent increase in unemployment there is a 1 per cent increase in homelessness. This is devastating, especially in a pandemic where thousands of Victorians are losing their jobs. So I ask the minister: what is the government’s plan for accommodating the sudden increase in those experiencing homelessness?
Ms SYMES (Northern Victoria—Leader of the Government, Minister for Regional Development, Minister for Agriculture, Minister for Resources) (12:41): I thank Mr Barton for his question and indeed his ongoing passion for the plight of people who are experiencing homelessness. It is actually becoming very evident the longer he is in here how much he cares about this important issue, and it is really good that he is on that committee that is doing that inquiry. I will leave the details of the response to the relevant minister, but I can assure the member that the government is very astute to the challenges of homelessness and indeed the impacts of COVID and the increases that we are likely see, and appropriate strategies are being developed and will also be considered as part of the budget process. I will certainly leave my remarks there for an answer to be provided in accordance with the standing orders.
Mr BARTON (Eastern Metropolitan) (12:42): Thank you, Minister. During COVID-19 the government has taken an initiative to get homeless individuals into hotels and in contact with wraparound services. Typically support services such as social workers, health workers or financial services have struggled to keep in regular contact with these people. Unstable and insufficient housing means that these people have no option but to move from place to place. As a community we have the ability to secure safe and stable housing for these people to help them get back on their feet and in contact with these services. Living in hotels is not a long-term solution, but at least these people are somewhere safe, warm and clean for now. So I ask: how long is the government prepared to keep paying for hotels for the homeless?
Ms SYMES (Northern Victoria—Leader of the Government, Minister for Regional Development, Minister for Agriculture, Minister for Resources) (12:43): Thank you, Mr Barton, for your supplementary question. I will pass that on and an answer will be provided to you in accordance with the standing orders.
See the response here .