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Salvos applaud plan for rough sleepers

The Salvation Army has warmly welcomed the long awaited release of Victoria's Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Plan. The Action Plan avoids the temptation of throwing money at an imaginary 'silver bullet' solution, in favour of carefully targeted investments in key areas of this complex problem. It recognises that different solutions are needed for different cohorts and at different stages of homelessness. And it commits more than $45 million to make it happen.

The longer a person remains homeless, the more difficult it becomes to solve. So it makes sense to intervene as early as possible in the places that we know people are vulnerable to becoming homeless - leaving out-of-home care or prison, for example. It's far better to stop someone experiencing homelessness in the first place by stabilising their existing housing or providing a sustainable alternative, than wait for them to appear at the door of organisations like the Salvos. Although homelessness has been increasingly prevalent in Melbourne's CBD, we know it doesn't stop at the borders of the city. The sometimes 'hidden homelessness' of our suburbs and regional areas desperately needs attention. We need to ensure that frontline outreach and crisis accommodation services are equipped to provide quality and timely services to ensure better outcomes for some of our most vulnerable Victorians. It's this kind of smart investment that we have been asking for and which the Action Plan delivers.

The Salvation Army has been pleased to be able to contribute to the consultations and development processes out of which this Action Plan has been built. The Plan clearly reflects the wisdom of people who have spent many years in this sector and those who have experienced homelessness firsthand. It's also clear that this isn't the end. The Plan rightly points to future directions and highlights work yet to be done.

There's just one problem... Victoria can't solve homelessness alone. There is much that state governments can and should do - and the Andrews government has been leading the way in this area. However, decades of rising housing prices and declining social housing stock have put affordable, accessible housing out of reach of people on the lowest incomes. This situation is only going to be solved by a concerted, long term effort that adds thousands of new units of social housing each year. And this is a strategy that needs to be driven with funding from the Commonwealth Government.