An Illawarra-based homelessness service has echoed national calls for a support package to help end rough sleeping.
"Successful models such as Housing First used in countries like Finland show that ending homelessness is achievable and more than just a pipe dream," Mandy Booker, manager of Wollongong Homeless Hub said.
"We need a national plan and approach to have a successful long-term outcome to ending rough sleeping."
The homelessness sector met online this week to discuss the impacts, efforts and positive outcomes over the past few months in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The forum was also an opportunity to hear how local groups can get involved in the #HomesBeyondCovid campaign, which is calling on the federal government to provide a coordinated plan of action to end rough sleeping in Australia.
CEO of the Australian Alliance to End Homelessness, David Pearson said many states were taking positive steps to respond to rough sleeping homelessness, but a national strategy - a 'HomeSeeker Package' - is needed to end rough sleeping.
Ms Booker said the discussion highlighted the need for a collaborative approach to end homelessness, and in particular rough sleeping in Australia.
"It demonstrated that when there is political will there are successful outcomes to addressing the issue," she said.
"The success of the COVID-19 response in housing rough sleepers in temporary accommodation (reinforce) the need to ensure that we now look at long-term housing options and not accept them being placed back into homelessness."
Ms Booker said both before and during the pandemic, the Illawarra has successfully had many people provided temporary accommodation, and most have successfully moved into transitional or long-term housing.
"This was only achieved by a collaborative approach between government and non-government organisations, working outside the box to address people's needs," she said.
"For example, a fortnight ago Wollongong Homeless Hub, Housing NSW and Neami staff provided assertive outreach to those sleeping rough on the trains, resulting in people that had previously disengaged, re-engaging and being provided temporary accommodation and the opportunity to work towards long-term housing solutions."
Professor Paul Flatau from the University of Western Australia said their estimates show approximately 16,000 individuals and family units experiencing homelessness have received temporary accommodation in hotels and motels across Australia as part of COVID-19 temporary accommodation responses.
We depend on subscription revenue to support our journalism. If you are able, please subscribe here. If you are already a subscriber, thank you for your support.