In October 2016, Housing Plus led the first NSW Regional Homelessness and Housing Summit, sponsored by Family and Community Services, Homelessness NSW and Yfoundations. The Summit brought together local SHS providers to discuss issues, innovations and ideas relating to homelessness and housing services in a regional NSW context.
During the two-day event, industry experts and local services presented on a range of topics to 260 registered attendees from across Central West and Western NSW.
Peak bodies used the event to discuss rural and regional homelessness strategy with the following key learnings drawn from these discussions:
- NSW homelessness strategy needs to include a focus on rural and regional homelessness and issues
- Local issues need to be acknowledged and considered, including lack of resources, limited housing options, distance and limited education and employment opportunities
- NSW homelessness strategy needs to allow more opportunities for rural and regional towns to pilot and trial different ways of working. Invariably, these occur in either metropolitan Sydney, Newcastle or Illawarra
- NSW homelessness strategy needs to understand existing gaps and develop strategies to manage these. In particular, accommodation options need to be addressed for young people, single men and Aboriginal families and individuals.
- NSW homelessness strategy should focus on providing Aboriginal community controlled accommodation and support for young people and Elders
- NSW homelessness strategy should focus on providing intensive support and accommodation services for people exiting custody
- NSW homelessness strategy needs to support rural and regional communities to support people at risk of homelessness, or experiencing homelessness, to develop long term aspirations and goals rather than continue to focus on providing a crisis response
- There needs to be a focus on increased collaboration between NGO funded programs, including SHS services and tenants advice and advocacy services
Housing Plus is working with Family and Community Services, Homelessness NSW and Yfoundations to identify and partner with another regional housing or homelessness provider to deliver the 2017 summit on the mid north coast of NSW.