LGBTI homelessness

Mr HIBBINS (Prahran) — (12 784) My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Housing. The action I seek is for the minister to develop and implement an LGBTI homelessness action plan to address the high rates of LGBTI people who are homeless and improve their access to homelessness services. LGBTI communities are over-represented in homelessness statistics. According to latest ABS data, 33.7 per cent of lesbian and gay people have experienced homelessness compared to 13.4 per cent of heterosexuals. As the Victorian Greens LGBTI spokesperson I have met with a number of young people who are same-sex attracted, transgender or gender diverse who have shared with me some horror stories when it comes to accessing homelessness services. I would like to acknowledge and thank the members of Minus18 and Ygender who were willing to meet and share their stories with me directly.

 

 

Research has found that discrimination, including experiences within services, has been a major contributing factor and obstacle to accessing safe and appropriate service provision. In the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 faith-based homelessness providers are granted an exemption from laws to protect people from discrimination based on their sexuality, sex or gender identity. With a majority of homelessness services in Victoria being faith based this can be a barrier to LGBTI people accessing services, as they may have already faced discrimination as a cause of their homelessness, leaving them less likely to access services and with no recourse should they feel discriminated against.

I have also met with key researchers and other stakeholders within both the LGBTI and homelessness sectors who have confirmed that LGBTI people are disproportionately affected by homelessness and that homelessness services do not have adequate training or resources to deal with the special needs of this community. There is also a clear need for further research and understanding of homelessness within the LGBTI communities. I urge the minister to act on this matter.

 

Response:

The Victorian Government is working to ensure that people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) are able to access housing and human services safely and without experiencing prejudice or discrimination.

In March 2017 the Andrews Labor Government launched Homes for Victorians to give every Victorian every opportunity to find a home. The government has committed $799 million since March 2016 in additional housing and homelessness support. This funding includes the Towards Home program, providing $9.8 million over two years to rapidly rehouse 40 vulnerable rough sleepers with wrap around support and a $109 million homelessness package to intervene early and provide targeted support to help get people back on their feet.

This new funding complements the $2.1 billion in financial instruments as part of Homes for Victorians, which will deliver thousands of new social homes. This significant investment will create new permanent housing and provide the necessary wrap around support services for vulnerable Victorians, including those who identify as LGBTI.

Through the Health and Human Services Working Group of the LGBTI Taskforce, the Victorian Government has funded the Gay and Lesbian Foundation of Australia (GALFA) since early 2016 to undertake  a research project to further understand the extent and nature of homelessness within LGBTI communities. It is anticipated that the work being undertaken by the Foundation will identify key areas of focus for government and community services to consider.

There are a number of homelessness and family violence funded services with a specific focus on helping people who identify as LGBTI. However all homelessness and family violence services, and human services more generally, should consider how they can become more LGBTI safe and inclusive.

As part of the 2017-2018 Budget, $5.3 million was allocated to respond to the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and gender diverse and intersex people experiencing family violence. Furthermore, on 16 June 2017, The Andrews Labor Government boosted funding to support the wellbeing of Victoria's LGBTI community. We will allocate $500,000, with a particular focus on projects for vulnerable groups in the LGBTI community, including young people, Aboriginal people and people in regional communities. The additional funds will go to key agencies to provide increased support, expand capacity and organise forums for people seeking information or help. Beyond this, Switchboard Victoria will receive $109,000 to expand their free telephone and web counselling referral and information service for LGBTI Victorians.

The Government is committed to promoting and supporting organisations to become more LGBTI inclusive. Strategies include:

• The Rainbow eQuality Online Guide. The Guide has been developed by Department of Health and Human Services to assist health and community service agencies identify and adopt inclusive practices and become more responsive to the health and wellbeing needs of LGBTI individuals and communities.

• A peak bodies forum. A forum for representatives of peak community based health and human services providers was held on May 31, 2017. The forum highlighted the importance of LGBTI inclusive practice and discussed opportunities for supporting uptake and further development of the Rainbow eQuality guide in different sectors. Homelessness services were part of the forum.

• Rainbow Tick Accreditation. The Andrew's Labor Government is supporting at least one family violence service provider in each of the 17 Department of Health and Human Services Support and Safety Hub service areas to achieve full Rainbow Tick accreditation by 31 December 2018.  All other family violence service providers are being supported to achieve Rainbow Tick accreditation. This includes through the ‘HOW2 program', designed by the Rainbow Tick developer.

• Developing pilot LGBTI service planning and inclusive practice tools and resources tailored for use within Victorian Community Health Services. 


The Hon Martin Foley MP
Minister for Housing, Disability & Ageing