Statewide guidelines

Funding for homelessness services

All homelessness (and most family violence services) are funded jointly by the Commonwealth and State Governments, through the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement. 

Funding to services is allocated on a three yearly cycle and is administered by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) through the Homelessness & Accommodation Support area in DHHS centrally and through the DHHS Area Offices.  

All homelessness services are funded to work in accordance with key funding guidelines developed by DHHS, within the Opening Doors Framework and in line with a number of statewide protocols.  Key statewide documents guiding provision of homelessness funded services can be found below. 

DHHS Guidelines and Conditions of Funding May 2014

This document is prepared by the Department of Health and Human Services to outline the key funding requirements for all Specialist Homelessness Services (SHS), Transitional Housing Management Services and include use of the Housing Establishment Funds. 

This integrated set of program guidelines is expected to be used by all homelessness assistance program funded services and is designed to further streamline homelessness program management and operational practice;

  • eliminate duplication in former SAAP, THM and HEF guidelines
  • introduce new tools and frameworks as homelessness program operational requirements
  • establish common definitions across homelessness program functions
  • introduce a user friendly format that is easily updated and distributed

These guidelines replace the following documents:

  • Transitional Housing Management Program Guidelines and Conditions of Funding May 2003;
  • Supported Accommodation Assistance Program (SAAP) - Program Framework and Funding Guidelines 2005-2006
  • Housing Establishment Fund Guidelines and Conditions of Funding June 2003.
  • Homelessness Service Guidelines and Conditions of Funding 2006 - 2012

To view or download a copy of the HomelessnessServices Guidelines and Conditions of Funding please click here:

Opening Doors Framework

Opening Doors is a framework of principles and practices that underpin homelessness practice across Victoria, including consistent approaches to client assessment, referral, resource allocation and coordination across the Victorian Homelessness Service System.

The Framework guides the Local Area Services Networks to manage timely, coordinated and effective access to the service system for those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness and a coordinated, client centred response from the homelessness service system.

The Opening Doors Framework incorporates the following features:

• A consumer focussed and strengths based approach
• Equity of access to the resources of the homelessness service system
• Support for skilled workers with training, supervision and efficient tools
• Collaboration and partnerships between agencies and the DHS
• Reasonable care to address the risks faced by each person who is homeless
• Maximising the use of available homelessness resources. 

Opening Doors established a common practice approach for the LASNs including

  • a shared approach to assessment and referral processes,
  • resource allocation and service system, and
  • planning within their own catchments.

The Framework established clearly identifiable access/entry points to the service system and the development of a service system response that can ‘hold’ consumers and assist them to navigate the service system.

These clearly identifiable Access Points are responsible for providing indivduals/households who are homeless or at risk of homelessness with information at their first point of contact. This includes honest and transparent information about the types of resources available, processes for accessing them and the likelihood of being able to access various resources.

See below the Opening Doors Practice Guide and Opening Doors Coordination Guide. 

Guidelines for Cross Regional Referrals

These guidelines have been developed to ensure that people experiencing homelessness can move around the State as they need and that they will receive a consistent homelessness response where ever they choose to access a service.

The Department of Health and Human Services developed these Guidelines to enhance the collaborative working relationship between Entry Points
across the state to ensure consistent practice and processes are in place for out of region
referrals. The guidelines aim to improve the response to people who are homeless or at
risk of homelessness by:

  • coordinating service pathways for people referred across regions and Local Area Service Networks (LASNs);
  • enabling an understanding and clarify the role and responsibilities of Entry Points when making an out of region referral;
  • ensuring there is a shared understanding and commitment to the duty of care, client confidentiality and client rights.

Private Rental Access Program

Managed by access point services

• Includes three elements: Private rental brokers, Private rental assistance brokerage &
   PRAP Plus (support program)

• Up to $7,000 brokerage packages available per household per year (DHHS can approve
   higher amounts)

• Primary suitable uses of brokerage funds:

o  Rent in advance or in arrears (which must be reviewed to determine affordability).
o  Rental subsidies (maximum package of $7,000 per household with greater packages
    subject to local area approval).
o  Guarantees to cover any loss of rent damage costs that are not covered under insurance
    or the bond.
o  Costs associated with accessing private rental such as storage costs, transport rental
    inspections, or payment of bond (however, the Bond Loan Scheme should be first used
    whenever possible).
o  Costs associated with establishing a new tenancy such as furniture, appliances,
    removalist costs or utility connection.
Landlord incentives – this may include minor works to the property that will benefit the
   tenant. For example, modifications for a tenant with a disability to make the property
   accessible (see below for further guidance on landlord incentives).


Protocol for LASNs and entry points: People exiting prison

This Protocol document, developed by the Department of Health and Human Services, provides a guide to access/entry point services to assisting people who are leaving prison and who have nowhere to live. 

Protocol for LASNs and Youth Justice Services

The purpose of this agreement is to enhance collaborative working relationships between the housing and homelessness Service System (HSS) and the Youth Justice System to improve the response to young people at risk of homelessness when exiting Youth Justice centres (YJC).
As for the adult population, young people without stable accommodation upon exit from custody are at higher risk of re-offending and becoming entrenched in a culture of homelessness and transience. The outcome for young people in such circumstances may be a further progression into the criminal justice system.

Preventative responses for young people in the Youth Justice System require effective planning and coordination of services, and an understanding across the housing, homelessness and support services sectors of the particular vulnerabilities and needs of young people in moving towards achieving their goals for education and employment, safe affordable housing, health and wellbeing.

In recognition of this, the Department of Human Services (DHS) established the Transitional Housing Management - Youth Justice Housing Pathways Initiative (THM-YJ HPI) in 2002. This initiative provides a coordinated housing pathway for young people aged 15 years and over who are exiting YJCs who are at risk of homelessness, or who have previously been homeless.

Opening Doors Practice Guide

This guide assists workers who undertake initial homelessness assessment to understand and implement he practice of Opening Doors. It includes information about using the initial assessment and referral tools, and will support each worker’s own communication and allow for individual tailoring of the assessment conversation.

Other information about Opening Doors is found in the Opening Doors Framework (overview and policy context) and the Opening Doors Service coordination guide for local area service networks (detailed outline of network tasks).

This Practice guide also outlines the role of provider agencies (case-managed support services and social housing providers) in this practice.

Opening Doors Coordination Guide

This guide was initially developed to assist LASNs to develop, implement and maintain their local service delivery model. It divides the development work into seven stages, and provides:
• information about membership, roles and responsibilities of the local area service networks
• a detailed outline of the tasks for each LASN
• tools and resources to assist each LASN with these tasks.

The Guide provides a useful tool to understanding the role of the LASNs.

SHIP data collection

All homelessnes services are required to participate in the national SHIP (Specialist Homelessness Information Platform) data system, run by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. 

Guidelines to SHIP can be found at:

Ereferral in SHIP

In late 2018 the Department of Health and Human Services enabled ereferral in SHIP.  

Ereferral’ refers to an enhancement to the referral tab on SHIP that enables SHIP and SRS users to send, receive and respond to referrals from other SHIP/SRS users electronically.

The aim of this enhancement is to reduce time taken processing referrals and improve of the security of client information that has is currently being transferred by email/fax.

Some things to note are:

·         Call ahead before you send an ereferral! This is very important for a number of reasons. A key one is you will need to check if the provider is set up to receive ereferrals and knows to check their referral tab. Otherwise ereferrals may go unnoticed.         

·         Services will be identified by their current Service Seeker description. Make sure you are configured as best reflects your service including the contact person. Check on Service Seeker website              (  and report changes if necessary using the form provided

DHHS has developed Ereferral Instructions and an Ereferral Guideline and Implementation Protocol. In the first phase of implementation only access point services could send ereferrals but, in Phase 2, this facility was opened to all SHIP users.


If you experience any technical issues with ereferral, call 1 800 627 191.


If your provider description/contact needs updating, fill out the Service Seeker form

SHIP Information Sheet

The SHIP information sheet below provides information for homelessness services on updates to SHIP functions and highlights critical sections of the data collection.

Practice Guide: NDIS

The Department of Health and Human Services has developed the attached Practice Guide to inform the intersections between homelessness services and the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).