Mr HIBBINS (Prahran) — It is clear to everyone in the Prahran electorate that homelessness has increased with a number of people sleeping rough in the Chapel Street area. I always point out that this is just the tip of the iceberg with many more people experiencing homelessness in insecure or unsafe housing rather than living on the street. Having spoken to local housing agencies, I was shocked by just how few options there are locally to place people experiencing homelessness. This results in agencies sending people to outer suburbs or even country towns where they have no ability to support them or know whether their accommodation is stable and of course away from their family or support network, resulting in many people simply returning to that very same service.
There is a desperate need for more housing in our area, whether it is public housing, where the waiting list is still too high, or social or affordable housing, particularly now given the closure of the Gatwick Hotel and Fawkner Mansions some years ago. Certainly I would like to see Fawkner Mansions reopened for the homeless.
I would also like to advocate for the Housing First model, where people experiencing homelessness are put directly into long-term housing and provided with the support they need to maintain that tenancy, rather than going through crisis and temporary accommodation, which increases the chances of those tenancies failing.
I would also like to acknowledge how entrenched homelessness can be, particularly with people experiencing mental illness, and the need for places like drop-in centres that provide not just a service but a sense of community. I would certainly like to see the Prahran Mission drop-in centre reopen after it was closed in the last term of government due to funding cuts.