Those from disadvantaged or marginalised groups are more at risk of experiencing homelessness; however, it is often an accumulation of multiple risk factors and adverse economic, social and personal circumstances that cause an individual to become homeless. It is these structural and personal drivers which need to be the focus of an early intervention strategy for homelessness which focuses on prevention rather than cure. Homelessness cannot be remediated with any single measure—it is complex and multidimensional. Instead, it requires a variety of approaches addressing key risk factors, that can help an individual avoid homelessness. The Committee believes that the Victorian Government’s homelessness response requires the development of clear guiding principles to support an effective whole-of-government approach to the issue.
In its Final report the Committee recommends a wide-ranging suite of measures aimed at achieving outcomes through an extensive effort towards early intervention to assist in the prevention of homelessness. At the heart of the Committee’s final report is the belief that we need a two-pronged approach in order to remediate homelessness in Victoria:
- We need to strengthen early intervention measures to identify individuals at risk and to prevent them from becoming homeless.
- We must provide more long-term housing for the homeless.
These should be the core aims of the Victorian Government.
Notwithstanding these goals, improvements are also needed around the use and management of short- and medium-term accommodation options—specifically, crisis and transitional housing.
The Committee believes that the homelessness crisis in Victoria demands immediate and ongoing attention from the Victorian Government. The complexity of the issue cannot be understated, with a myriad of often overlapping risk factors that make people vulnerable during unexpected crisis points. Without appropriate support people can find themselves homeless. To address the varying causes and manifestations of homelessness a wide range of solutions are required. The Committee believes that implementation of the broad-ranging and complementary suite of recommendations made in our Final Report will significantly improve the Victorian Government’s response to homelessness across the state.
During the course of this inquiry, we saw how emergencies such as bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic can have a devastating effect on the most vulnerable in our community. The Committee urges the government to monitor outcomes for disadvantaged sectors over the next few years as we determine what the long-term effects of these crises will be.