Welfare groups call for homelessness agreement to continue

SOCIAL services groups have called for the national partnership agreement on homelessness to be extended, after a report released on Wednesday showed the current agreement was unlikely to meet its targets.

The COAG Reform Council report found that rather than reducing homelessness by 7% by 2013, the figures actually rose by 17%, in part due to a rise in severe overcrowding around the country.

Australian Council of Social Services chief executive Dr Cassandra Goldie said despite falls in the number of people sleeping rough, there was a need for more action.

"This highlights that much more needs to be done to support newer members of our community, who are already some of the most disadvantaged groups," she said.

"We appear to have made some progress in reducing the rate of Indigenous overcrowding, however Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are still 14 times more likely to be homelessness than the rest of the Australian community.

"This continues to be unacceptable and we need a sustained effort over time if we are to make a difference and close this disturbing gap."

Her comments reflected those of reform council chairman John Brumby, who also recommended better reporting of how the agreement was actually working.

Mr Brumby said the reform council's report highlighted a rise in recent immigrants living in severely overcrowded houses, in part due to large family groups living together.

It is understood the Federal Government recently gained agreement for a $320 million one-year extension to the agreement, after some six months negotiation.

However, the long-term future of the agreement remains in doubt, with just two and half months before the government enters the caretaker period before the September election.