Veterans at Risk - Research Project (December 2009)

The Veterans at Risk research project was conducted for the Commonwealth Department of Veterans Affairs by Thomson Goodall Associates Pty Ltd.

Department’s Comments on the Report and Recommendations

The Department would like to thank the researchers, John Thomson and Julie Goodall, and their associates, for this valuable and important work.

The Australian Government has made the issue of homelessness a national priority.

On 21 December 2008, the Government released the White Paper on Homelessness, The Road Home: A National Approach to Reducing Homelessness. The White Paper was the beginning of a significant collaboration and consultation process with all levels of government, the not for profit sector and other key stakeholders. This report provides the Department with an additional resource to use as it works within the whole-of-government response to tackling homelessness.

For the Veterans At Risk Report, we note that the researchers encountered difficulty in determining the number of veterans who were homeless, or at risk of homelessness. This difficulty has also been encountered by the Australian Bureau of Statistics and others who are interested in the overall number of homeless, or at risk of homelessness, in Australia. The Veterans at Risk  report takes the widest possible definition of what a veteran is and then applies a proportional value to determine numbers. While this gives one possible picture of the problem it would not be representative of what most within the veteran community would consider to be the core of the issue. The Department believes a more realistic number of "at risk" veterans is between 200 and 300.

The Department has endorsed the broad thrust of the recommendations in the report and since its release the Department has undertaken considerable work to address the recommendations in the report, noting the Department has no direct role in the delivery of housing or accommodation services to the veteran and ex-service communities.

The Department has examined its records to identify those at risk of homelessness and taken action to provide assistance. The Department has also established a closer relationship with Centrelink to more easily identify and assist any members of the veteran community who are at risk of homelessness.

The Department is represented on some of the key Australian Government fora responsible for implementation of the White Paper at a national level, including the Homelessness Delivery Review Board. It is through these bodies that the Department will ensure issues affecting veterans at risk are addressed at the national level through the integration of specialist homelessness and mainstream services. The Department has also continued to work with all other sectors to ensure that veterans’ issues are understood as part of the wider response to homelessness. This includes providing greater education to the sector on the services and assistance that the Department can provide.

If you wish to receive an electronic copy of the Veterans at Risk report, please e-mail CMBSHPPST@dva.gov.au to request.