Updates for the sector

Here you can find out about important activities, strategies and changes to programs.

Release of 2016–17 Specialist Homelessness Services data

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) released the report Specialist homelessness services 2016–17 on 14 December 2017.

The NSW Government assisted 74,216 people in 2016–17 through Specialist Homelessness Services (SHS). This is an increase of six per cent from 69,715 people in 2015–16 and 43 per cent from 51,786 people in 2013–14 prior to the Going Home Staying Home reforms. The increase in numbers in NSW reflects the introduction of a ‘No Wrong Door’ policy for homelessness services as well as higher demand for services and increased program funding.

In 2016–17 we assisted:

  • 20,030 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (28 per cent of clients)
  • 25,711 people experiencing domestic and family violence (35 per cent of clients)
  • 24,320 people with an identified mental health issue (33 per cent of clients)
  • 13,879 young people aged 15 to 24 years presenting alone (19 per cent of clients)
  • 5,471 people aged 55 years or older (seven per cent of clients)
  • 8,809 people with problematic drug or alcohol issues (12 per cent of clients)
  • 8,659 people who were born in countries other than Australia (13 per cent of clients)
  • 3,160 people with disability (four per cent of clients).

Key drivers of homelessness

Housing affordability and domestic and family violence are the leading drivers of homelessness. The top five reasons given for seeking assistance from SHS were housing crisis or eviction (54 per cent), financial difficulties (42 per cent), housing affordability stress (31 per cent), domestic and family violence (30 per cent) and relationship and family breakdown (28 per cent). The majority of clients (61 per cent) were presenting alone, with a further 30 per cent of clients presenting as single parents with children (either as the parent or as accompanying children).

Support to find and maintain housing

SHS provides effective assistance for people to exit homelessness and to achieve and maintain housing. More than one in three clients (36 per cent) who were homeless at the beginning of support were living in public, private or community housing at the end of support. Of the clients who remained homeless at the end of support, 16 per cent were sleeping rough, 46 per cent were in short term accommodation and 37 per cent were couch surfing or had no tenure. Almost nine in 10 clients (88 per cent) who were at risk of homelessness at the beginning of support were living in public, private or community housing at the end of support.

Accommodation for those in need

SHS provides a range of client-centred services, including accommodation and other assistance. SHS provided accommodation to 18,928 people in 2016–17, including short-term or emergency accommodation to 12,617 people and transitional accommodation to 7,389 people. For every five people who needed accommodation, two (41 per cent) had accommodation provided by SHS, one (22 per cent) was referred to receive accommodation from other services, and two (37 per cent) were not provided with or referred to accommodation by SHS.

Case management plans

Two-thirds (67 per cent) of clients had a case management plan, with 91 per cent of these clients having some, or all, of their case management plan goals achieved. The most common reasons given for a client’s support ending were that their immediate needs were met or their case management goals had been achieved (44 per cent of clients) and that the client no longer requested assistance (28 per cent of clients).

Notes: The percentage of clients who were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people excludes 3,351 clients for whom Indigenous status was not stated. The percentage of clients who were born in countries other than Australia excludes 6,055 clients for whom country of birth was not stated.

Updated 14 December 2017

Recovery of unspent 2016–17 homelessness funds

The following information outlines the approach for managing unspent homelessness funds as part of the 2016–17 annual accountability process for homelessness service providers funded by FACS.

This applies to funding allocated under the following programs:

  • Specialist Homelessness Services
  • Inner City Restoration
  • Service Support Fund
  • Domestic Violence Response Enhancement (DVRE)
  • Homeless Youth Assistance Program
  • Premier’s Youth Initiative (PYI)
  • Youth Crisis Accommodation Enhancement (YCAE).

This information is to be read in conjunction with the resources available on the FACS Contracting Portal in relation to the annual accountability process.

Funds to be recovered

As part of the 2016–17 annual accountability process, proposals to carry forward unspent homelessness Program Level Agreement (PLA) funding will not be considered.

All unspent homelessness funds will be recovered by FACS with the exception of:

  • unspent DVRE, YCAE and PYI funds, which were allocated to service providers as advanced payments and have been approved by FACS to be carried forward to 2017–18 for delivery of these programs
  • unspent funds of $1,000 or less.

The approach to managing surplus unspent funds may vary between FACS programs depending on strategic priorities.

All other FACS programs have applied a similar approach to recouping unspent funds in previous years. This year is the first time in a number of years that homelessness services will not be able to submit a carry forward proposal.

Key reasons for this are that we are keen to reduce the overall level of unspent funding across the homelessness sector and ensure a larger amount of homelessness funding is directed to deliver the services for which it has been allocated.

At the FACS Homelessness Program level, this means we can pool unspent funds to increase capacity to respond to homelessness program priorities.

Methods of recovery

Where there is a current PLA, the preferred method of recovery is to reduce one or more future payments until the full amount has been recovered.

Unspent surplus funds will be recovered from your third quarter payment by 17 December 2017 or earlier where possible.

If the amount of unspent surplus funds is greater than the next quarterly payment, the funds can be withheld over a number of quarters.

FACS will notify you if funds are to be withheld, with advice about the amount to be withheld from your next (and subsequent, if applicable) quarterly payment.

Please contact your local Contract Manager for further details about other available methods of recovery.

Further advice

If you require further information about unspent homelessness funding, please email SHSProgram@facs.nsw.gov.au

If you require support or assistance with any aspect of the annual accountability process, please email Manager.PrudentialOversight@facs.nsw.gov.au

Updated 13 November 2017


The fourth Specialist Homelessness Services (SHS) CEO Forum took place on 21 November 2016 in Sydney. It brought together FACS and 51 representatives from lead agencies across the homelessness sector, with over 30 more participating via live streaming.

The forum provided the opportunity to share detailed updates on the progress of the NSW Government’s Homelessness Strategy and work done by FACS in the homelessness space since the previous SHS CEO forum. The meeting also hosted the launch of the first NSW-focused edition of Parity magazine since 2009.

Thank you to all who attended and participated in making the day a success.

FACS presented a detailed analysis of five years of SHS data to build a picture of what was delivered over that period. A copy of the SHS CEO Forum data presentation is now available.

The report from the SHS CEO Forum has been distributed to all FACS-funded homelessness services and is available on request by email to FACS Homelessness.

Updated 1 January 2017

Recontracting Homelessness Services (2017–2020)

SHS Recontracting Webinars

In early December 2016, Homelessness Branch hosted information webinars for districts and service providers on the recontracting process.

The Specialist Homelessness Services Recontracting Webinar presentations provided opportunities for all parties to discuss the purpose and expectations of the informal recontracting discussions between districts and service providers, and the process.

Responses to key questions raised in the webinars are provided here.

If you have questions about this, please contact Joe Parsons, Manager Homelessness.

Updated 19 December 2016

Recontracting Homelessness Services (2017–2020)

The Guidelines for Recontracting Homelessness Services (2017–2020) have now been finalised. These guidelines include a Recontracting Checklist template to guide provisional discussions between district contract managers and service providers.

Joint Working Agreement (JWA) Guidelines have also been finalised. These guidelines provide clarity to service providers on JWAs and sub-contracting arrangements, and include a sample JWA template (Appendix A).

These documents were distributed to districts in early November 2016.

Key milestones leading up to the commencement of new contracts on 1 July 2017

Recontracting milestones

If you have questions about this, please contact Joe Parsons, Manager Homelessness.

Updated 16 November 2016

Recontracting Homelessness Services (2017–2020)

The second meeting of the Recontracting Working Group was held on 30 September 2016 with a focus on the Recontracting Guidelines, the new 2017–2020 Program Level Agreement (PLA), data collection, and the Joint Working Agreement (JWA) Guidelines.

Recontracting Guidelines

The draft Recontracting Guidelines have been developed by FACS to support district contract managers lead the recontracting processes and inform discussions with service providers. These were circulated to the group for review and discussed at the meeting.  Once finalised, the guidelines will be distributed to districts and will be available on this website.

The group considered proposed provisions or special conditions to be included in the new 2017–2020 Program Level Agreement (PLA) that will reflect the focus on outcomes and the transition to the Human Services Agreement during the next contracting period, and address other areas requiring clarification.

The need to customise aspects of data collection to better support monitoring and reporting on client outcomes was also discussed. This customisation will impact non-Client Information Management System (CIMS) data collection systems and data requirements.

The group agreed that a provision on changing data requirements for non-CIMS users should be developed for inclusion in the new PLAs.  Providers will be consulted separately on this work as it progresses.

JWA Guidelines

A revised draft of the JWA Guidelines incorporating feedback from group members was also discussed, with the group agreeing that more work was required on the document. The updated draft guidelines have been sent to the group for out-of-session endorsement and are scheduled for finalisation in early November 2016. These will be distributed to the sector following final FACS approval, and made available on this website.

If you have questions about this, please contact Joe Parsons, Manager Homelessness.

Updated 1 November 2016

Homeless Youth Assistance Program

Under the Homeless Youth Assistance Program (HYAP), 19 service packages have been established across NSW. These include 17 services established through the recent HYAP Stage 2 select tender and two early release providers in Sydney.

These services provide integrated support and accommodation with the aim of reunifying children and young people with their families and broader support networks, where appropriate, or enabling them to transition to appropriate longer-term supported accommodation.

Key objectives of the HYAP include supporting children and young people to:

  • rebuild family, kin and cultural connections and work towards family reconciliation, where appropriate
  • successfully transition to independence
  • engage with education, training and/or employment
  • access mainstream health, mental health and wellbeing services
  • engage with the broader community to support their successful transition to independence.

Service providers funded through the HYAP have demonstrated experience and expertise in delivering positive outcomes for unaccompanied children and young people.

Information about HYAP providers is available in our List of services.

Updated October 2016

Recontracting Homelessness Services (2017–2020)

In November 2015, the Minister for Family and Community Services announced that funding for homelessness services will be extended to June 2020.

Service providers are currently contracted to deliver services through to 30 June 2017. Under the recontracting process, these contracts will be renewed through to 2020, subject to satisfactory performance.

The recontracting process applies to services funded through the Specialist Homelessness Services (SHS) Program, the Service Support Fund (SSF) and the Inner City Restoration Fund. It also applies to two services in the inner city area that were funded through the Homeless Youth Assistance Program (HYAP) in 2015.

FACS has established a Recontracting Working Group to collaboratively plan the recontracting process. The first meeting of the Working Group on 12 August 2016 endorsed the Terms of Reference for the group, agreed on the roles and responsibilities of members, discussed the broad approach to recontracting and the Joint Working Agreement guidelines, and undertook to keep the sector and Districts informed of the key points and outcomes of each meeting.

The recontracting process will be delivered in two phases:

  • Phase 1: Policy design and development
  • Phase 2: Implementation.

Recontracting phases one and two

The Working Group will provide advice, guidance and feedback on the development of recontracting guidelines and the recontracting process more broadly.

The endorsed recontracting guidelines will inform the initial recontracting discussions, scheduled to start at the district level in October.

It is anticipated the JWA Guidelines will be finalised by late October 2016.

Resources supporting the recontracting process will be available on this website once they have been endorsed.

If you have questions about any of this, please contact Joe Parsons, Manager Homelessness.

Updated August 2016

Specialist Homelessness Services Early Review

FACS has engaged the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) and the University of NSW Social Policy Research Centre (SPRC) to do an Early Review of the Specialist Homelessness Services (SHS) Program.

The review will provide timely feedback about how the SHS service responses and system reforms are being implemented. It will look at what is and isn’t working well and identify key areas where FACS and the homelessness sector can work together to improve services.

Our homelessness service providers were invited to complete an online survey between 9 May and 3 June 2016, and clients were invited to complete an online survey between 9 June and 29 July 2016. Thank you to everyone who responded.

SPRC is currently conducting four place-based case studies as part of the review.

Participation in the Early Review is voluntary for service providers and clients. All information provided to the researchers, in surveys and interviews, is treated as confidential. This information will be used for the purpose of this research study and will be published in such a way that participants won’t be identifiable. The University of New South Wales (UNSW) Human Research Ethics Committee has provided ethical approval for the Early Review.

Any enquiries about the Early Review can be directed to the Social Policy Research Centre.

Following the Early Review, an Outcome and Economic Evaluation of the SHS Program will deliver a detailed examination of client and service system outcomes. The scope and design of this activity will be developed with the Advisory Group.

Updated August 2016