Safe and Equal welcomes the opportunity to comment on the Productivity Commission’s review of the effectiveness of the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement (NHHA).
Housing, homelessness and family violence are inextricably linked. Family violence is one of the biggest drivers of homelessness and base funding for the specialist family violence sector is currently funded under the NHHA. In Victoria, the specialist family violence system has undergone significant reform following the Royal Commission into Family Violence in 2016. Despite unprecedented investment in the family violence system, unfortunately, housing outcomes for victim-survivors of family violence have not improved. Forty-seven percent of people seeking support from a homelessness service in Victoria do so due to family violence.
The NHHA is an important policy mechanism by which funding for social housing and homelessness services, including specialist family violence services, flows from the Commonwealth Government to the states and territories. It establishes that the Commonwealth and state governments have a mutual interest in ending homelessness and improving housing affordability. This and past agreements have been successful in providing critical resources to the homelessness sector, including specialist family violence services, and, to some extent, have been successful at growing and maintaining social housing stock. It is vital that we continue to have such agreements between the Commonwealth and state governments.
However, the desired outcomes of the NHHA have not been achieved. In fact, by most measures, things have gotten worse. It is therefore timely for the Productivity Commission to conduct this review. Within our submission, we make four recommendations on how to make the next and future NHHAs stronger and more effective. These are:
- Develop a National Housing and Homelessness Strategy to sit above the NHHA,
- Take a gendered approach to a National Housing and Homelessness Strategy and
- Improve data collection relating to priority cohorts, specifically victim-survivors of
family violence and those experiencing intersecting forms of marginalization, and
- Increase the quantum of funding delivered through the agreement to truly meet
demand for social housing and homelessness support services.