261. Hon ALISON XAMON to the Leader of the House representing the Minister for Community Services:
I refer to reports that homelessness services are being impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
(1) What work has the government done, or does it intend to do, to ensure that its understanding of frontline service delivery is up to date and will accurately predict future need?
(2) What action is the government taking to ensure that services are able to meet current and predicted need and have adequate resources to ensure that staff and people using services are able to maintain hygiene standards in accordance with the COVID-19 recommendations?
(3) Have any homelessness services been reduced or closed due to challenges presented by the pandemic?
Hon SUE ELLERY replied:
I thank the honourable member for some notice of the question.
(1)–(2) The Department of Communities is currently undertaking a risk assessment to identify the potential impact of COVID-19 on services and the users of those services, and is establishing a task force to consider the immediate risks facing the sector and to develop and oversee a suite of practical responses.
Communities is also working with other government agencies, including the Department of Health, the Department of Finance and the Department of the Premier and Cabinet and with community sector organisations such as the Western Australian Council of Social Service, to ensure there is a coordinated response to the impact of COVID-19 on services. Communities will also respond on a case-by-case basis to specific issues that impact on individual service providers as they are identified, including where these concerns are raised by the service providers.
(3) Communities is aware that several services have changed their service models in response to COVID-19. For example, although not reducing service provision, meals and day centres have staggered access to their services to restrict the number of people who access their services at any one time. Some housing support services are limiting face-to-face contact and utilising phone and other contact methodologies. Communities is aware of one youth accommodation service that has reduced capacity from six young people to four young people as a result of staff shortages due to three staff having to self-isolate. The service was not currently operating at capacity and no young people have been impacted.