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The 2019 program includes the latest innovations in homelessness practice and prevention, new research, and ongoing challenges in policy and practice.

Our Canadian keynote speakers Melanie Redman and Stephen Gaetz will discuss system reforms and practice developments in Canada, including the impact of the Canadian Housing Strategy, homelessness prevention initiatives, and the innovative Housing First for Youth model being trialled in multiple sites across Canada.

You’ll hear about the challenges and progress being made with the National Disability Insurance Scheme, the mental health system, and post-housing support. Connect with the latest developments in the homelessness policy framework in Victoria, and with the Aboriginal Housing and Homelessness Framework.

And, we’ll have a specific youth homelessness stream, to learn about policy and practice innovations for young people, including young people transitioning from out-of-home care, young people in rural areas, and young LGBTIQ people.

More sessions will be confirmed.  Subscribe to updates

DAY 1 – Monday 14 October

Welcome to country & Ministerial address:


The Hon Richard Wynne

Keynote Plenary Address: 

Lessons from Canada – Progress, challenges, next steps


Dr Stephen Gaetz, President and CEO, Canadian Observatory on Homelessness

Discussant: Professor Guy Johnson

Canada shares many similarities with Australia, including its colonial history, systems of government, the persistence of discrimination experienced by First People, and geographic size. Canada is also experiencing a similar increase in homelessness because of decreased affordability in the rental market.

However, Canada’s Federal Government has been relatively more engaged in responding to homelessness and in 2017 committed to a national housing strategy: A place to call home, and more recently to a national homelessness strategy.

What can Australia learn from this experience of national leadership? What system reforms have succeeded, and which faltered?    


Plenary panel:

Closing the Gap: An Aboriginal Housing and Homelessness Framework


Facilitator: Jenny Samms, Lead consultant for the Aboriginal Housing and Homelessness Framework.

Panellists: A diverse representation of CEOs and leaders of Aboriginal agencies

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Victorians access homeless services at 10 times the rate of non-Aboriginal Victorians. Aboriginal Housing Victoria is leading a process to develop an Aboriginal Housing and Homelessness Framework that aims to improve housing outcomes for Aboriginal community members across the housing continuum.

This plenary panel will explore:

  • the characteristics of Aboriginal homelessness in Victoria
  • the critical success factors for addressing Aboriginal homelessness
  • examples of successful models, and,
  • future directions arising from the Framework process.


Plenary Panel: 

Breaking the nexus between the mental health and homelessness: What the Commission should conclude…  



Cathy Humphrey – What we need from the Royal Commission in housing and support; a homelessness service perspective

Wellways - What we need from the Royal Commission in housing and support; a mental health perspective

Consumer panel -  How housing and lack of housing and support impacted on pathways in and out of mental illness

Facilitator: Jenny Smith

The Victorian Homelessness Achievement Awards




MC – Comedian and political commentator Sammy J

Networking event and drinks

CHP is proud to present the Victorian Homelessness Achievement Awards, an opportunity to celebrate the many exceptional workers, consumers and organisations within the specialist homelessness service system and the vital work that they do. Learn how to nominate

DAY 2 - Tuesday 15 October


It’s time to end youth homelessness



Melanie Redman, CEO, A Way Home Canada

Discussant: Assoc. Professor David MacKenzie, Swinburne University

Canada, like Australia, is experiencing an increase in youth homelessness and has similar challenges with vulnerable young people falling through the net of the services that are available.

Melanie Redman will talk about how the Canadian youth homelessness sector has responded to these challenges using advocacy, research, practice innovation and partnerships. What is being achieved? What is working less well? And what can we learn in Australia about how to turn the dial on the growing crisis of homelessness among young Australians?

Plenary Panel:

The NDIS – Is it getting any better? Could it be worse?




A senior leader from the National Disability Insurance Agency

Carol Vale, McCauley Community Services

Consumer voices

The 2017 Victorian Homelessness Conference featured an NDIS panel on the deep challenges experienced by people with disability who are homeless or at risk, and the difficulties faced by the homeless sector in securing support for highly vulnerable consumers.

This panel builds on that conversation, and articulates the changes needed to make the system meet the needs of people with complex needs.

The Victorian Homelessness Media Awards

Recognising the journalists doing outstanding work in reporting on homelessness




The media wields significant power to shape and influence understandings of homelessness and to drive positive community conversations about the causes of homelessness. Productive conversations focus on the systemic issues that underlie homelessness.

With the support of the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation, CHP has established the Victorian Homelessness Media Awards program.

The Awards recognise and encourage outstanding, responsive, and respectful reporting of homelessness with four Awards categories; Breaking News, Long-form, Opinion and Student / Early Career journalism. 


How to win friends and influence homelessness policy


Mark Chenery, Common Cause 

Our sector has long battled with the best way to persuade the public and decision-makers to adopt big picture solutions to the complex social problems.

This session looks at the way we can evolve our messages to appeal to people’s values. Through this session we will learn how to craft communication that ‘activate' the perspective that works best for us and stay well clear of the others. 

Plenary Debate: How small is too small: a debate about tiny homes


The great Victorian homelessness debate returns with the fundamental question of size.


  • Bevan Warner, CEO, Launch Housing
  • Rob Pradolin, Housing All Australians
  • Pete Zwiers, Kids Under Cover National Program Manager


  • Jane Barnes, Wintringham
  • Samantha Sowerwine, Principal Lawyer, Homeless Law, Justice Connect
  • Jeanette Large, CEO, Women’s Property Initiative


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