Council launches Frankston Zero initiative to combat homelessness

Published on 19 August 2021

homeless person

A major initiative to address homelessness and provide significant assistance to rough sleepers has been launched in Frankston City.

Frankston City Council Mayor Kris Bolam hosted a special online event to launch Frankston Zero, which was attended by close to 70 people including Victorian Minister for Housing, Hon Richard Wynne MP, State Member for Frankston, Paul Edbrooke MP, State Member for Carrum, Sonya Kilkenny MP, Member for South Eastern Metropolitan, Dr Tien Kieu MP, Federal Member for Dunkley Peta Murphy MP, Senator David Van and South Ward Cr Claire Harvey.

Mayor Bolam said Frankston City has seen a 388 per cent increase in rough sleeping homelessness since 2016 and the Victorian Government has recognised the area as one of nine rough sleeper hotspots in Victoria.

Established by the Frankston City Strategic Housing and Homelessness Alliance, a strategic collaboration of 14 agencies, Frankston Zero is the culmination of two years of intensive planning to address the rising rates of rough sleeping homelessness in the municipality.

Mayor Bolam said Frankston Zero – based on international best practice models to end homelessness – has reoriented the local service system to deliver a coordinated response for people sleeping rough.

“Frankston Zero operates beyond traditional funding models and includes holistic support including mental health, family violence and trauma support, while working with the person to find secure housing,” the Mayor said.

Mayor Bolam added: “Homelessness, in all of its forms, represents a critical issue facing our community, and we are not alone. Homelessness – particularly suburbanised homelessness – is on the rise across Victoria, and Australia.

“In 2017, Council convened a series of emergency meetings with the homelessness sector who reinforced the extreme pressure they were under to meet the dramatic increase in demand for homelessness and rough sleeping services.

“Through these meetings, the Frankston City Strategic Housing and Homelessness Alliance (Strategic Alliance) was formed, with representation from a cross section of relevant services and agencies within the municipality.

“The Strategic Alliance – currently chaired by Dr Gillian Kay, Council’s Director of Communities – is committed to working together to address the continued homelessness pressures within Frankston City,” the Mayor said.

Mayor Bolam acknowledged the recent announcement by Minister Wynne, that the Victorian Government will continue workforce funding for local Assertive Housing and Supportive Housing Teams (Launch and NEAMI).

“This was a crucial enabler for the delivery of Frankston Zero and without it we would not be celebrating the launch of this important initiative. Through investing its resources in an additional and intensive layer of coordination for Frankston Zero, the Strategic Alliance believes it can break down the ‘revolving door cycle’ of repeated homelessness and achieve significant, long-term cost savings for all tiers of government.

“Frankston Zero defies traditional sector barriers by bringing together all services and sectors that have a role to play in supporting the pathway out of homelessness. These include health and mental health services, family violence and legal services, alcohol and other drug services, Local Government, and many more.

“Its aim is both simple and ambitious – to achieve functional zero homelessness (for rough sleeping) in Frankston City by 2023. Frankston Zero is based on the principle that rough sleeping homelessness should be rare, brief and non-reoccurring, with all of its resources mobilised to achieve this,” Mayor Bolam said.

Frankston Zero Chair Jackie Galloway said: “We were delighted with the strong support shown during the recent launch. Frankston Zero represents an opportunity for specialist homelessness agencies, Local Government and community organisations to harness their collective commitment and expertise to deliver both short and long term outcomes for those experiencing homelessness.

“We look forward to working with Frankston City Council and all tiers of Government to enhance housing affordability and end rough sleeping in the Frankston region,” Ms Galloway said.

Senator David Van said: “I am pleased to support the announcement of Frankston Zero following meetings with Council and the Federal Minister for Housing and Homelessness, Hon Michael Sukkar MP, in May this year.

“Frankston’s homelessness issue is deeply concerning and I am aware the issue has been escalating since 2016 specifically and has only been compounded by the on-going after-shocks of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the Morrison Government committing a further $400 million to the Affordable Housing Bond Aggregator (ABHA) in 2021 – 2022,” Senator Van said.

The Federal Member for Dunkley, Peta Murphy said: “I congratulate both the State Government and Frankston City Council on their commitment to reduce homelessness in our community.”

“I will continue to work with them and to push for more youth crisis and transitional housing, as well as public and affordable housing,” Ms Murphy said.

The State Member for Frankston, Paul Edbrooke MP, said: “I’m so proud to have helped officially launch Frankston Zero and continue supporting holistic help such as mental health, family violence and trauma support, while working with our community to provide secure housing.

“Thank you to all involved for your hard work getting this important project off the ground,” Mr Edbrooke said.

The Member for South Eastern Metropolitan and member of the 2020 - 2021 Parliamentary Inquiry into Homelessness, Dr Tien Kieu MP, said: “Frankston Zero is an initiative which will provide some of the most vulnerable members of the community with safe and stable sleeping conditions.

“This project helps address the pressing issue of rough sleeping and will lay the foundations for sustainable and long-term housing outcomes for those most in need,” Dr Kieu said.

Launch Housing General Manager, Dr Andrew Hollows, said his organisation is a strong supporter and collaborator of Frankston Zero, and congratulates Council for its leadership.

Dr Hollows said: “A zero approach to homelessness is about ‘advancing to zero’ – instead of counting upward to an ever-shifting target, we are counting down to zero with an initial focus on people sleeping rough.

“A key feature is having a ‘By Name List’ – we know everyone sleeping rough by name and there is a shared responsibility by Council, Launch Housing and other service agencies to find appropriate housing and support as quickly as possible.

“For Launch Housing, the zero approach is a practical example of achieving a Melbourne without homelessness, to match our status as a world liveable city,” Dr Hollows said.

NEAMI Service Manager of the Towards Home + program in Frankston, Amanda Williams, said Frankston Zero has already achieved some great outcomes including one person being placed into a public housing property after spending years of rough sleeping in the Frankston municipality.

Ms Williams added: “We have had 12 people from the By Name List shortlisted for priority housing and two of our youngest persons on the list, both aged 17 years, have been prioritised into emergency accommodation while receiving a coordinated response of assistance. We now have 25 people allocated to a case manager and agency to receive tailored, wrap around supports.”

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