The Palaszczuk government is determined to build a prosperous state where Queenslanders enjoy the benefits of that growth. We are also determined to ensure that vulnerable Queenslanders are not forgotten. Homelessness is a complex problem with no simple solution. It is more than simply a lack of shelter. It is why this government recognises our responsibility to do everything we can to build a sophisticated system to support those in need. It is an issue that is often amplified by isolation, by a lack of human connection.
Last month I joined with the Salvation Army to support their Couch Project, which brought people together to raise awareness of homelessness. We heard the story of Rebecca, a victim of family violence, who shifted between hostels and her friends’ couches. Her homelessness was often not visible to those around her, even to those close to her, but it impacted all parts of her life, including her ability to work.
Rebecca’s story drove home that homelessness manifests in a number of different ways. It can be a few nights couch surfing with friends, a few weeks moving between temporary accommodation or time on the streets. This government supports and funds a sophisticated suite of responses targeted at all the different manifestations of homelessness. Earlier we heard from the Treasurer about social benefit bond enabled programs being added to this suite.
Last year we funded 127 organisations to provide 218 specialist homelessness services across the state. This year we are investing $152.6 million in specialist services, providing support and shelter for people in crisis. The new $2 million Dignity First Fund adds to this suite of responses, funding programs and projects that promote the immediate needs of people experiencing homelessness.
I am pleased to inform the House that the applications for the Dignity First Fund have now closed, and the interest has been overwhelming. Some 66 organisations have submitted 78 proposals for the fund, which will support social entrepreneurs and other community organisations and initiatives outside the traditional way of thinking. There have been 31 applications for innovation funding for existing organisations, 26 applications for small funds for organisations to upgrade facilities, eight applications for start-up funds proposing new projects and 13 applications across the three categories.
Organisations across the state are finding sophisticated ways to support people through homelessness by providing for the immediate needs of people living on the streets, in cars or couch surfing. The Dignity First Fund will back in the work of the Palaszczuk government in this space and support new ideas and allow existing programs to expand.
I am advised that the inaugural recipients of Dignity First funding will be announced over the coming months. I look forward to keeping the House updated on the innovative new projects that will be added to our suite of measures to support vulnerable Queenslanders to live with dignity.