Social Services: Regional Australia—Driving Our Economy 2017–18

The Department of Social Services is a critical source of social policy advice for the Australian Government, and is responsible for policies, payments, programs and services that improve the lifetime wellbeing of people and families across the country. The Department of Social Services is responsible for around one quarter of the total Australian Government budget, with effort particularly focused on vulnerable and disadvantaged individuals, families and communities, including those in regional and remote areas.

The Department of Social Services works in partnership with stakeholders including other Australian Government agencies, State/Territory and local governments, non–government organisations and the community services industry to understand need and invest in services to Australians including, those in regional locations.

In 2016–17, more than 2.1 million regional Australians are receiving financial assistance through income support, pension and family payments. The Australian Government’s $20.7 million commitment to the Australian Investment Approach to Welfare is ensuring evidence based policy and program development for vulnerable Australians at high risk of long–term welfare dependency. The $96.1 million Try, Test and Learn Fund will initially target investment into innovative activities to reduce the vulnerability and welfare dependency of young parents, carers and students, including those that live in regional locations.

The Third Action Plan 2016–19 of the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010–22 is supported by a $100.0 million investment over three years from 2016–17 to complement State and Territory government investments. The Third Action Plan drives interventions including targeted support to women and children in rural, regional and remote locations.

Other important ongoing program investments benefitting regional Australians, total around $780.0 million in 2016–17, and include:

  • emergency relief for people experiencing financial hardship;
  • playgroups for children with special needs;
  • help for job seekers with disability to prepare for, find and keep a job;
  • children and parenting, family relationship and family law services providing counselling, mediation, education and support to vulnerable families; and
  • specialist settlement support for newly arrived migrants and refugees.

New Initiatives

Extension and Expansion of Cashless Debit Card

The Cashless Debit Card (CDC) is aimed at supporting disadvantaged communities to reduce the consumption and effects of drugs, alcohol and gambling on the health and wellbeing of communities, families and children. Under the CDC, 80 per cent of welfare payments are placed onto a recipient's card, with the remaining 20 per cent placed into their regular bank account. The CDC looks and operates like a normal bank card, except it cannot be used to buy alcohol or gambling products, or to withdraw cash.

The CDC was implemented in the Ceduna region, South Australia, in March 2016, and the East Kimberley, Western Australia, in April 2016. The Australian Government has invested over $2.6 million over 2015–16 to 2016–17 in additional community services to support the trial, including more drug and alcohol services, a 24/7 mobile outreach, and financial counselling. 

The implementation of the CDC in these two sites has been extended until 30 June 2018. This follows positive early evaluation results and community feedback. Building on this success, the CDC is being expanded to two other communities during 2017 and 2018.

While the expansion communities have not yet been identified or agreed, the Department of Social Services is working with communities that are expressing an interest in joining the trial. The communities selected for expansion are likely to be regional sites. This is expected to have positive impacts on regional Australia including reducing alcohol consumption, illegal drug use, and gambling. The expansion is also likely to improve access to banking services, and telecommunications infrastructure in remote and regional areas.

Extension of Income Management

Income Management is part of the Australian Government’s commitment to reforming the welfare system, and currently assists 25,033 people (as at 30 December 2016) to budget their welfare payments to ensure they are getting basic essentials. This helps people to stabilise their lives so they can better care for themselves and their children.

Income Management ensures that part of an individual’s welfare payments are directed towards meeting priority needs such as food, clothing, housing, utilities, education, and medical care. People can spend their income managed funds by organising direct payments to people or businesses such as stores, landlords, or utility providers, and by using the BasicsCard. Money that is income managed cannot be spent on alcohol, tobacco, pornography or gambling.

Income management will continue to operate in different forms across regional and metropolitan Australia, with a total investment of $145.5 million in 2017–18 and 2018–19.


National Disability Insurance Scheme Quality and Safeguards

The Quality and Safeguarding Framework (the framework) was released by the Disability Reform Council on 3 February 2017. The Framework will provide nationally consistent protections for National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participants from full scheme.

Under the framework, a new Commonwealth agency, the National Disability Insurance Scheme Quality and Safeguards Commission, will offer safeguards for an estimated 460,000 people with disability and their families; regulate providers; manage complaints and reportable incidents; and oversee investigations.

To assist regional Australians to have choice and access to NDIS services and support, the new body will offer financial assistance to providers in rural, remote and regional areas to help meet the cost of registration. This will reduce the extent to which the cost of registration is a barrier to providers delivering services in regional Australia.

Reducing Pressure on Housing Affordability—Reform of the National Affordable Housing Agreement

The Australian Government will provide $6.0 billion over four years from 2018–19 for a new National Housing and Homelessness Agreement (NHHA). The NHHA consolidates the existing National Affordable Housing Agreement (NAHA), the associated National Affordable Housing Specific Purpose Payment (NAHSPP) and National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness (NPAH). The initiative includes new homelessness funding of $375.3 million over three years from 2018–19. The NHHA will achieve better outcomes for housing and homelessness funding and is expected to have a similar impact in regional areas as it would in urban areas.

Current Initiatives

Try, Test and Learn Fund

In 2016–17, the Australian Government committed $96.1 million over four years to support the Try, Test and Learn Fund as part of the Australian Investment Approach to Welfare.

The Try, Test and Learn Fund will initially target funding to innovate activities to reduce the welfare dependency of young parents, carers and students, including those that live in regional locations.

The aim is to trial and test policy interventions that promote independence and employment thus breaking the welfare cycle, to better inform the evidence base as to what works. The Try, Test and Learn Fund is designed along a commissioning approach; with a process of outcomes definition, ideas generation and co–design undertaken prior to funding. It is expected that the Try, Test and Learn Fund will open for the submission of ideas a number of times over the four year period. Information concerning the Try, Test and Learn Fund is available on DSS Engage at:

Digital Literacy for Older Australians

The Digital Literacy for Older Australians measure delivers on the Australian Government’s election commitment to strengthen the skills, confidence and online safety of older Australians in using digital technology.

It adopts a family and community–centred approach to help older Australians realise the social and economic benefits of being online and access the growing number of government business and community services moving online.

In 2017–18, $29.6 million will be allocated to support the delivery of appropriate learning tools and resources, including assistance for community organisations located in metropolitan and regional areas to provide one–on–one tutoring and support to older Australians.

Domestic and Family Violence—Third Action Plan

Women living in regional Australia are more likely to experience domestic violence than those living in capital cities (Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health, 2014; Personal Safety Survey, 2013). The Australian Government recognises the vulnerabilities of women and their children in regional Australia to domestic and family violence, including issues in accessing services, a lack of privacy due to services often knowing both the victims and perpetrators, and issues around isolation and social and cultural characteristics of living in small communities.

The Third Action Plan 2016–19 of the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010–22 drives interventions including targeted support to women and children in rural, regional and remote locations. These are implemented across the following six key priority areas:

  • preventing and intervening early to address the attitudes and practices that excuse, justify and promote violence against women;
  • improving responses and support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their children;
  • providing greater support and choice for women and children leaving or trying to leave domestic and family violence;
  • sharpening the focus on sexual violence as a key component for women’s safety;
  • responding to children exposed to domestic and family violence to help them feel safe and to recover from their experience; and
  • holding perpetrators to account across all systems and targeting responses that work to change their behaviour.

The Third Action Plan marks the half–way point for the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-22, and will continue Australian Government and State and Territory efforts to break the cycle of violence, informed by recommendations of the Council of Australian Governments Advisory Panel.

National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children

The National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009–20 is a joint commitment between the Australian Government, State and Territory governments and the non–government sector to ensure the safety and wellbeing of Australia’s children. The Third Action Plan 2015–18 focuses on three strategies:

  • early intervention with a focus on the early years, particularly the first 1,000 days for a child;
  • helping young people in out–of–home care to thrive in adulthood; and
  • organisations responding better to children and young people to keep them safe.

Activities underway as part of the Third Action Plan 2015–18 emphasise prevention and early intervention, and supporting children and young people exposed to risk factors for abuse and neglect, including children and families in regional Australia. As part of this work, the Australian Government is funding the Building Capacity in Australian Parents trial, which will provide support and tools parents need to help their children thrive in the first 1,000 days and normalise families asking for help in a number of regional Queensland locations.

Under the Towards Independent Adulthood trial, personal advisers will be engaged to provide intensive, holistic support and mentoring for 80 young people in Western Australia, including some young people from regional areas, as they transition from formal out–of–home care into adulthood. The Third Action Plan 2015–18 also includes a focus on the safety and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families to address their overrepresentation in the child protection system.

The National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009–20 and the Third Action Plan 2015–18 form part of the Australian Government’s commitment to supporting the wellbeing of Australian children. There are close links between the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009–20 and the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010–22.

Seasonal Work Incentives for Job Seekers—Trial

The trial forms part of the Australian Government response to concerns about the inability of the Australian horticulture industry to attract sufficient numbers of seasonal workers, and the impact of this on industry and opportunities for job seekers.

Three incentives have been developed that are aimed at increasing the number of job seekers in horticultural seasonal work, such as fruit picking. It also provides job seekers with a practical opportunity to enter the workforce and to build work experience and skills.

The incentives will be available from 1 July 2017 for two years and are expected to cost $27.5 million. Newstart and Youth Allowance (Other) recipients who have been receiving those payments continuously for at least three months will be eligible to participate in the trial, which will be capped at 7,600 participants over the two years.

The three incentives are:

  • a Seasonal Horticultural Work Income Exemption under which trial participants will be able to earn up to $5,000 from horticultural seasonal work during the 12 months after they join the trial without it being assessed under the social security income test;
  • a Seasonal Work Living Away and Travel Allowance of up to $300 each year for trial participants who undertake horticultural seasonal work more than 120 kilometres from their home; and
  • employment providers would receive a Provider Seasonal Work Incentive Payment of $100 a week for up to six weeks a year for each trial participant that they place with eligible farmers.

National Disability Insurance Scheme

On 1 July 2016, the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) commenced transition to full scheme across Australia, following bilateral agreements with New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory. Participants in Western Australia commence transitioning to a WA–delivered nationally consistent NDIS from 1 July 2017; and the NDIS in the Australian Capital Territory is now fully operating.

New South Wales and South Australia will reach full scheme in July 2018. Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania and the Northern Territory will reach full scheme in July 2019 and Western Australia will reach full scheme by July 2020.

The NDIS will create new employment opportunities in regional Australia, in response to additional demand for services from NDIS participants. As the NDIS rolls out across Australia, around 70,000 people in regional and remote areas are expected to receive support in 2016–17, rising to 155,000 in 2017–18.

By 2019–20, the scheme will support an estimated 460,000 people with significant and permanent disability, regardless of where they live, including around 250,000 people in regional areas.

National Disability Advocacy

The Australian Government is committed to ensuring people with disability have access to effective disability advocacy that promotes, protects and ensures their full and equal enjoyment of all human rights, enabling full community participation.

As part of this commitment, $17.7 million was provided in 2016–17 to 58 advocacy agencies across Australia, including ten in regional locations, under the National Disability Advocacy program.

Approximately 12,000 people received individual support, and a broader group benefitted from agency support. A search tool on the Department of Social Services website enables people to identify their nearest National Disability Advocacy program agency.

People with disability, advocacy agencies, the National Disability Insurance Agency, State and Territory governments and key stakeholders such as public guardians have been consulted in the development of a way forward for advocacy support. This review will provide a direction and model for the provision of services funded under the program from 1 July 2018.

Families and Children

The Families and Children’s activity aims to help families improve the wellbeing of children and young people by strengthening relationships, building parenting and financial management skills, providing parenting support, and delivering school readiness programs and home visits. The Australian Government will allocate over $266.6 million in 2017–18 to enable these services to continue to be delivered across Australia, with an extensive footprint in regional areas.

Communities for Children Facilitating Partners services operate in 28 regional areas to support early childhood development and wellbeing. Under this model, a Facilitating Partner is funded to work with each community to identify local needs and tailor services accordingly. Services may include parenting support, home visitation, supported play groups and life skills programs. In 2015–16 79,578 clients in regional areas received these services.

Other Families and Children’s services include:

  • Family and Relationship Services;
  • Children and Parenting Support Services;
  • Intensive Family Support Services; and
  • Family Law Services.

Settlement Services

In 2017–18, $178.1 million will be provided for Settlement Services, which assist eligible people who have recently arrived in Australia to establish their new lives. Funding for Settlement Services in regional areas helps new arrivals to become active and contributing members of their local communities.

Settlement Services are currently being delivered in regional areas that include: Geelong, Mildura, Shepparton, Wodonga (Victoria); Hobart, Launceston (Tasmania); Albury, Wagga Wagga, Newcastle, Wollongong, Coffs Harbour (New South Wales); Toowoomba, Townsville, Logan, Cairns (Queensland); and Mount Gambier (South Australia).

On 9 September 2015, the Australian Government announced that an additional 12,000 humanitarian entrant places would be made available for people displaced by conflict in Syria and Iraq (in addition to the 13,750 places in Australia’s 2015–16 and 2016–17 Humanitarian Program). People who come to Australia as part of this intake are being settled in a number of Australian communities, in both metropolitan and regional areas.

As at 27 February 2017, 3,511 humanitarian entrants have been referred for Settlement Services in these regional locations across Australia in 2016–17.

Building Social Cohesion for Recently Arrived Migrants—Career Pathways Pilot

In the 2016–17 Budget, $5.2 million was allocated to a three year Career Pathways Pilot for Humanitarian Entrants under the Building Social Cohesion for Recently Arrived Migrants Budget measure.

Pilot services will assist newly arrived humanitarian entrants who are unemployed or underemployed, with professional or trade skills or qualifications and vocational English language proficiency, to find employment opportunities that utilise their skills/qualifications in the same or a similar career.

Pilot services will be delivered in six locations around Australia. The two regional locations are Toowoomba and Hobart.

Building Social Cohesion for Recently Arrived Migrants—National Community Hubs program

Community Hubs bring together vulnerable people, including recently arrived migrants, women and children in local facilities such as schools, to build community connectedness and equip participants with knowledge and skills to be active members of the community.

In the 2016–17 Budget, $5.7 million was allocated, under the Building Social Cohesion for Recently Arrived Migrants Budget measure, to increase the National Community Hubs program to support the establishment of new hubs in settlement locations, including regional Australia.

The new Community Hubs will be located in a minimum of five locations around Australia, including a regional trial in Wollongong.

Financial Wellbeing and Capability

Services funded under the Financial Wellbeing and Capability activity operate across 1,300 outlets in regional Australia, assisting the most financially vulnerable and disadvantaged people and families.

This includes support through the provision of emergency relief and material aid, financial counselling and capability including literacy and budgeting support, as well as access to microfinance schemes. Funding is also provided to support a national financial counselling helpline, providing access to financial counselling for people who are unable to attend a face to face service.

In 2017–18 over $96 million will be allocated to continue services under the Financial Wellbeing and Capability activity.

Approximately 17,750 people in regional locations access Commonwealth Financial Counselling services. This equates to 51 per cent of all clients accessing these services nationally.

Home Interaction Programme for Parents and Youngsters

The Home Interaction Programme for Parents and Youngsters (HIPPY) is a two–year, home–based parenting and early childhood learning initiative that currently operates in 65 regional or remote communities of high disadvantage.

During the 2016 calendar year, a total of 2,213 children were actively engaged or had graduated from HIPPY in these communities.

HIPPY builds the confidence and skills of parents and carers to create a positive learning environment to prepare their child for school. Each HIPPY site has its services delivered by a local not–for–profit organisation.

Strong and Resilient Communities

The Strong and Resilient Communities activity aims to build strong, resilient, cohesive and harmonious Australian communities with opportunity to thrive, capacity to respond to local needs and challenges, and free from intolerance and discrimination.

Resilient and inclusive communities are characterised by a strong sense of community belonging, high levels of community participation and volunteering, strong leadership and community engagement, well–integrated and well–used support services, and opportunities for social mobility. Funding will be provided to regional and metropolitan communities, to help build these attributes, to ensure improved individual, family and community outcomes.

From 1 January 2018, the Strong and Resilient Communities Activity will replace the current Strengthening Communities Activity.

In 2017–18, the Australian Government will allocate around $18.0 million to organisations under the Strengthening Communities and the Strong and Resilient Communities Activities (from 1 January 2018). An additional $10.0 million will be allocated to Volunteer Grants in 2017–18. This is expected to benefit regional communities at similar levels to 2016–17, which resulted in around 44 per cent of grants and 47 per cent of funding allocated to regional Australia.

Community Mental Health

The Community Mental Health, Family Mental Health Support Services are community–based mental health services that provide early intervention support for children and young people with early symptoms of mental ill–health, or who are at particular risk of developing mental illness later in life.

Through an increased investment since early 2015, Family Mental Health Support Services is now delivered in 100 locations across Australia. $48.5 million was provided in 2016–17 to 52 service providers delivering support to children and young people in 58 regional or remote locations. Of 53,291 participants accessing Family Mental Health Support Services in 2015–16, 28,091 (53 per cent) were located in regional and remote Australia.

The increased investment in Family Mental Health Support Services in regional Australia allows more vulnerable children and young people to access support and achieve better mental health outcomes later in life.

The Community Mental Health, Individual Placement and Support Trial provides employment support, as part of a broader strategy aimed at tackling high youth unemployment.

The Trial targets vulnerable young people with mental illness up to the age of 25, who are at risk of disengaging from education and employment and who are at risk of long–term welfare dependency.

The Individual Placement Support model integrates employment and vocational support with clinical mental health and non-vocational support, and focuses on the needs of people with mental illness seeking to remain in education and/or employment. Professional employment specialists located in headspace sites will provide vocational and employment assistance, in tandem with clinical support. There are 14 trial sites nationally over three years. Nine of the 14 trial sites are being delivered in regional or remote Australia.

Disability Employment Services

The Disability Employment Services program provides specialist employment assistance to people whose primary impediment to employment in the open labour market is disability, injury or a health condition. The Australian Government will provide around $800.0 million in 2016–17 to support this important initiative.

In 2015–16, the Australian Government invested more than $290.0 million in assisting people with a disability in regional Australia achieve sustainable employment outcomes in the open labour market. Subject to labour market conditions, a similar amount is expected to be spent in regional areas in 2016–17.

In regional Australia, Disability Employment Services (DES) are delivered by 70 organisations from nearly 1,000 locations. Regional Australians currently comprise nearly 40 per cent of those receiving support through DES, or over 72,000 of the 186,000 participants registered in the program.

From the commencement of Disability Employment Services in March 2010 until the end of 2016, more than 113,000 participants in regional Australia have been placed in a job through DES.

The Australian Government is currently working with the sector to reform the program by moving towards a more open and competitive market with a stronger emphasis on employment outcomes. The current contracts for Disability Employment Services are due to cease in 2018. The new Disability Employment Services model, to be introduced from 2018, will create better financial incentives for providers to assist participants equally, including those living in regional Australia.

Integrated Plan for Carer Support Services

The Australian Government is progressing work on an Integrated Plan for Carer Support Services, as announced in the 2015–16 Budget. The vision for the Integrated Plan for Carer Support Services is to streamline and better coordinate carer support services. In developing the Integrated Plan for Carer Support Services, a service delivery model for a proposed new integrated carer support service system has been co-designed with carers and the sector throughout 2016. The proposed new service system would introduce a range of early-intervention services and new ways to access those services that would support all carers, including those in regional Australia.

National Carer Gateway

Stage One of the Integrated Plan for Carer Support Services was the development and implementation of a national carer gateway. On 15 December 2015, Carer Gateway commenced and allows carers in regional areas to obtain practical information and resources to support them in their caring role via a national phone line and website. The Website features an interactive service finder that helps carers connect to local support services and includes information on services delivered by phone or online.

The national carer gateway and co-design activities for the development of a proposed new carers support service is budgeted to cost $33.7 million over four years to 2018–19.

National Respite for Carers

The National Respite for Carers program assists carers in their caring role. The program funds 34 regional Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centres to assist carers with short–term and emergency respite options, based on assessed need, and provide advice and coordinate access to respite services in a carer’s local area. The National Respite for Carers program also supports the National Carer Counselling program Carer Information Support Service and Consumer Directed Respite Care.

Young Carer Bursary Program

The Young Carer Bursary Program was a 2013 election commitment to assist young carers in greatest need across Australia including regional areas, aged 25 years and under to continue to study, and to relieve the financial pressure on them to undertake part–time work in addition to their educational and caring responsibilities.

The first bursary payments were made in February 2015 to 150 young carers to support them as they began the 2015 academic year. On 30 March 2015, the Australian Government announced further funding of $0.5 million to deliver an additional 150 bursaries for the 2015 calendar year.

On 5 August 2015, the Australian Government announced 333 annual bursaries valued at $3,000 each will be provided in both 2016 and 2017.

In 2017, a total of 113, or one-third of Young Carer Bursary Program recipients were from regional Australia.

Counselling, Support, Information and Advocacy—Carer Support

In 2015–16, approximately $3.4 million was provided to 17 Counselling Support Information and Advocacy carer support services in regional Australia to provide specific information, education and training for carers to assist them to understand and manage situations, behaviours and relationships associated with care needs of the person they are caring for. The type of activity and support provided varies depending on the needs of the carer.

Dementia Education and Training for Carers

The Dementia Education and Training for Carers initiative aims to improve the quality of life of people living with dementia. The Dementia Education and Training for Carers initiative provides training and education for carers of people with dementia, with 22 services in regional Australia. There is an emphasis on increasing the competence and confidence of carers by providing courses that aim to enhance their skills or processes that connect a carer to information.

The Australian Government has allocated $1.1 million to the Dementia Education and Training for Carers initiative in 2016–17.

Regional and Remote Student Access to Education—Additional Support

Subject to passage of legislation, from 1 January 2018, the period young people from regional and remote areas of Australia have to earn the amount required to satisfy the workforce independence provisions for Youth Allowance (student) or ABSTUDY, will be reduced from 18 months to 14 months. Students will continue to be required to earn at least 75 per cent of Wage Level A of the National Training Wage ($24,042 for 2016–17) during the reduced period.

This measure recognises that students from regional and remote areas face additional costs in pursuing tertiary education and have a much lower participation rate in higher education than students from major cities.

An estimated 3,700 students in 2017–18 may qualify for Youth Allowance (student) or ABSTUDY Living Allowance as independent under this measure, with 2,500 of these students qualifying four months sooner than under current arrangements. This measure is estimated to cost approximately $81.1 million over the forward estimates.

This measure also provides $12.2 million over the forward estimates to increase by 50 per cent the Additional Boarding Allowance under the Assistance for Isolated Children Scheme and the equivalent ABSTUDY payment (the means-tested component of Group 2 School Fees Allowance). This increase, which took effect from 1 January 2017, brings the allowance to $2,322 for 2017.

Assistance for Isolated Children

Families in isolated areas incur additional costs to educate their children. In 2015–16, the Assistance for Isolated Children scheme provided $70.7 million to the families of 10,958 students unable to attend an appropriate State school on a daily basis because of geographical isolation. In 2016–17, it is estimated expenditure will be $73.9 million.

Depending on the student’s circumstances, the Assistance for Isolated Children scheme provides:

  • Basic Boarding Allowance ($8,095 in 2017);
  • Additional Boarding Allowance ($2,322 in 2017);
  • Second Home Allowance ($235.81 per fortnight in 2017); and
  • Distance Education Allowance ($4,047 in 2017).


ABSTUDY is an ongoing program to help address educational disadvantages faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. ABSTUDY helps eligible Indigenous students and apprentices, many from remote areas, with study, living, and travel expenses, including if they need to study away from home. In 2015–16, ABSTUDY supported 20,526 Indigenous secondary students and 10,316 Indigenous tertiary students. ABSTUDY expenditure in 2015–16 was $259.6 million and it is estimated to be $274.5 million in 2016–17.

National Rental Affordability Scheme

The National Rental Affordability Scheme aims to increase the supply of new affordable rental housing by offering financial incentives for ten years, to build and rent dwellings to low and moderate income households, at a rate that is at least 20 per cent below market value rent.

The National Rental Affordability Scheme is now closed to new dwelling allocations but will continue to operate until the current ten year incentive periods are complete.

In 2016–17, the annual National Rental Affordability Scheme incentive is $11,048.04. Australian Government expenses for 2016–17 are estimated at $308.5 million.

As at 31 December 2016, there were 32,715 dwellings available for rent in the National Rental Affordability Scheme, of these:

  • 4,321 (13.2 per cent) dwellings are located in inner regional areas;
  • 2,762 (8.5 per cent) dwellings are located in outer regional areas;
  • 263 (0.8 per cent) dwellings are located in remote areas;
  • 36 (0.1 per cent) dwellings are located in very remote areas; and
  • 25,333 (77.4 per cent) dwellings are located in major cities of Australia.

National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness—Extension

Under the 2017–18 Transitional National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness the Australian Government will provide $117.2 million in funding to support frontline homelessness services while governments continue to work together on long-term homelessness reforms (funding will be matched by States and Territories).

Under the agreement States and Territories retain responsibility for determining services locations, providers and funding.

The 2017–18 Transitional National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness Project Plans will require each State and Territory to identify which geographical areas they will prioritise when considering expenditure for priority groups, including women and children experiencing domestic and family violence and homeless youth.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare will collect and report information on the specialist homelessness services funded under the 2017–18 Transitional National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness, and the National Affordable Housing Agreement, through the Specialist Homelessness Services Collection.

In 2015–16, the Specialist Homelessness Services Collection reported that (of a total of 279,197 clients):

  • 60,013 (21 per cent) clients presented to agencies in inner regional areas;
  • 30,790 (11 per cent) clients presented to agencies in outer regional areas;
  • 13,650 (5 per cent) clients presented to agencies in remote or very remote areas; and
  • 174,744 (63 per cent) clients presented to major city agencies.

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