The West

PM faces homeless funds call
PM faces homeless funds call

Tony Abbott will fly into a political brawl when he arrives in Perth today, with the Barnett Government joining welfare agencies to demand he immediately confirms funding for the State's most vulnerable people.

Shelters 'will have to cut programs |

The Prime Minister, who will be in WA until tomorrow to campaign for the Liberal Party in the Senate repeat election, will be asked by Colin Barnett to guarantee continuation of homelessness funding that runs out on June 30.

The National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness, established five years ago, helps about 6000 West Australians every year, including domestic violence victims, single mums and young people moving out of child protection.

The Federal Government will not reveal whether the funding will continue, even though the WA program has bettered all targets set by the Commonwealth.

Worth $14.5 million a year in Federal funds, matched by the State in cash and kind, the NPAH program allows 41 not-for-profit agencies to run 81 services throughout the State.

Several crisis accommodation, women's refuges and homeless centres fear they might have to close without the funding.

More than 110 full-time jobs are in danger if that were to happen.

Child Protection Minister Helen Morton said the State Government was frustrated by continued Federal funding uncertainty, saying agencies needed to know urgently before taking on more clients.

"We've had a fantastically successful program operating here and it's exceeded every target - by heaps," she said.

"A review demonstrated that 12 months after these people received the services more than 80 per cent of them were in secure, stable tenancy arrangements.

"This great outcome simply must be able to continue but to enable that to happen, we need that partnership with the Federal Government and the very least thing they could do is indicate the program will continue."

WA Council of Social Service chief executive Irina Cattalini said there was demonstrable economics behind the program, with a recent University of WA study showing a homeless person cost society $3685 more per year in health and justice costs.

A spokeswoman for Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews acknowledged uncertainty for the sector but said the previous government had not made provision for homelessness funding beyond June 30. He said future funding decisions were part of the Budget process.

The West Australian

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