Vic homelessness strategy 'poorly planned'

It is estimated about 8600 Victorians sleep rough each year.
It is estimated about 8600 Victorians sleep rough each year.

A $45 million plan to reduce homelessness in Victoria is poorly planned and there's no way to measure if it's actually working.

That's the finding of Victoria's Auditor-General Andrew Greaves. He says the Department of Health and Human Services never figured out a way to measure whether the state government's much-touted "action plan" was working as intended.

"Poor planning, a lack of agreed goals and limited performance monitoring mean that some people who could have been housed may still be sleeping rough," Mr Greaves said in a report published on Thursday.

Each year, about 8600 Victorians sleep rough. Victoria spends $92 per person on social housing, well below the national average of $159 per person.

In January 2018, the Andrews Labor government launched a $45 million initiative lauded as a "critical turning point" in tackling homelessness.

It included an more than 100 extra accommodation units and $19 million for additional outreach services.

Mr Greaves report said there had been some successes. But the state's human services department did not have a clear plan about how to implement the program.

It also didn't have the data to figure out how many people were sleeping rough in different areas.

"This means even if it can collect data on rough sleeping now, it cannot make a performance assessment," the auditor-general's office report said.

"(The department) could have worked with homelessness services and local government to find out the numbers of rough sleepers in each location, through development of a 'by name' list'."

The report also flagged governance problems. Bureaucrats did not have to report to the department's board or the public about the program's progress.

"The diminished oversight and accountability for the delivery of (the plan) is concerning given it is described as 'the foundation' of the government's strategy to reduce and prevent homelessness," the auditor-general's report said.

The department has accepted 13 recommendations to fix the problems identified.

Australian Associated Press