ACT Women and Housing Minister Yvette Berry has called for better co-operation from the Turnbull government on addressing housing and domestic violence services.
Ahead of a meeting of state, territory and federal housing and social service ministers in Brisbane on Thursday, Ms Berry has raised concerns the federal government could refuse to fund a renewed national agreement on homelessness services after June next year.
The current National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness includes $230 million from the federal government over two years, to be spent by the states and territories on frontline homeless services. Priority is given to services directed to women and children experiencing domestic and family violence, as well as homeless young people.
State and territory governments continue to protest cuts to national partnership agreements on health and education, stemming from the Abbott government's unpopular 2014 budget.
Ms Berry said housing services for domestic violence victims could be at risk if the agreement isn't renewed. In December, housing ministers were charged with informing the Council of Australian Governments, which includes premiers, chief ministers and the prime minister, about homelessness funding.
The uncertainty comes as family and domestic violence has been identified by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare as the most common reason for individuals to require homelessness support.
More than a third of those seeking homelessness support came as a result of domestic and family violence. In 2014-15, data showed 92,000 people, including 31,000 children, needed assistance.
Ms Berry said the issue had been discussed at meetings of state and territory housing ministers but there was confusion about divisions of responsibility between governments.
"I think there is a move by federal government to change the way homelessness services are funded … where the funding comes from and who is responsible," Ms Berry said.
"I feel like the federal government is trying to move out of a shared commitment around dealing with domestic and family violence and homelessness, as a national issue that we're all involved in and all need to work together on, to push it back on states and territories."
Ms Berry and South Australian Minister for the Status of Women and Social Housing Zoe Bettison have prepared a draft paper for the meeting, covering the agreement for government commitments on the issues.
The ACT government is concerned that a state and federal joint-funded awareness campaign on domestic and family violence will drive increased demand for necessary services, at the same time as uncertainty remains about ongoing funding after 2017.
Ms Berry said domestic violence support services and the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre had already reported a tripling of demand in recent months, including people travelling to the ACT from interstate for help.
"The frustration I have is with the federal government in telling us to do something and then saying they're not going to be part of it," she said.
"They've been very reluctant to speak about the effect that the awareness campaign is going to have on homelessness. It's raising awareness with nowhere for people to go."
COAG has identified violence against women as a priority and is expected to consider an advisory panel report on reducing violence against women at its next meeting.
Federal ministers will attend Thursday's meeting in Brisbane.
Asked if the federal government would commit to a new national agreement, federal Social Services Minister Christian Porter blamed the former Labor federal government for not providing future funding for homelessness services.
He said the Coalition had extended the current agreement by two years in recognition of the importance of the issue.
"Women, children and young people are particularly vulnerable to homelessness, and that is why services focusing on these groups are prioritised under the [National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness]," Mr Porter said.
"Australia will not tolerate domestic and family violence, and we will not turn a blind eye to these women and their children, nor to young people, when they are at their most vulnerable and need help."
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