Senate debates

Wednesday, 5 December 2018


50 Lives 50 Homes

7:34 pm

Photo of Rachel SiewertRachel Siewert (WA, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise tonight to talk about a very important project in Western Australia, and the threats that it faces. In Western Australia there is a project running called 50 Lives 50 Homes. It's under threat at the moment because part of its funding support is uncertain. Part of the project that supports this is its after-hours support service. It's an integral part of this project. That particular part of this project is funded through the after-hours healthcare funding stream provided by, and funded through, the primary health networks. The problem here is the uncertainty about what future funding will be available for that particular funding stream.

What I'd like to do is explain some of the absolutely critical work that 50 Lives 50 Homes does. I will say at the outset that I have spent time with the after-hours support service, and I've travelled with them. They support homeless people and also support people in the homes that they have found for them. So 50 Lives 50 Homes triages the most vulnerable homeless people, with typical clients having co-existing mental health, substance use and chronic health issues, including a significant proportion with three or more chronic illnesses. To date the project has housed 164 people in 134 houses. There's a collaborative approach with this project, and it has enabled multiple services to come together to achieve an 84 per cent retention rate for clients housed for over a year.

The outcomes of this project are being monitored by an independent evaluation by the University of Western Australia Centre for Social Impact. Through this, they are accessing linked data from hospitals, police and the project. It has been demonstrated that there is a 39 per cent reduction in ED presentations in a group housed for the past six months, and a 57 per cent reduction for those housed for 12 months or more. There is a 46 per cent reduction in hospital admissions for those housed for six months, and a 51 per cent reduction in admissions for those housed for 12 months. This translates into significant savings per person: $5,279 per person over six months and a whopping $9,181 per person over 12 months in hospital costs. You can see that that is a very significant saving. Most importantly, it's keeping these people in homes.

Part of this process, as I said, is the very important after-hours support service, which provides very essential services to those that are currently homeless. As I said, I have been with and travelled with the team that works with this group. I've also met people who are being supported in the housing that has been found for them, and they attest to the excellent service that has been provided.

I also have to say here that Ruah Community Services are helping with delivering these services. They have written to Western Australian senators, asking us to find out what is going on with this funding stream. I've got some questions for the government. They are seeking from the federal government information around the future funding issues, and they really want to know what is happening with the after-hours primary healthcare funding stream. They want to know if the federal government is intending to continue the funding stream for PHNs, and if this is likely to be the same level or an adjusted level for the current funding. They want to know what the time frame is for the federal government to inform the PHNs about the future of this funding stream. They want to know, if the funding stream is reduced or discontinued, what contingency funding or other arrangements will be put in place to ensure that critical programs such as 50 Lives 50 Homes are given sufficient resourcing to enable this process to continue and time to transition if they need to find alternative arrangements. They also want to know: if the funding stream is reduced or discontinued, will the federal government redirect funding into an alternative funding stream for PHNs? If so, what will the focus of this be? This is an extremely important program achieving essential outcomes. We beg the government to clear this up.