Introduction: Statewide Homelessness Guidelines

This page provides an overview of the key documents that inform practice in the homelessness sector:

  • Homelessness Guidelines and Conditions of Funding - outlining Department expectations of homelessness services

  • The Opening Doors Framework - the practice and collaboration framework that informs the coordinated homelessness system.

  • Cross Regional Referral Protocol - a Department document guiding referrals between regions.  People with lived experience can present at any homelessness access/entry point for assistance. Access/entry points can then forward this information to another region, if the consumer wishes.

  • Private Rental Access Program Guidelines.

  • Prison Exits Protocol - a Protocol guiding referral to the homelessness sector for people exiting prison.

  • Protocol for LASNs and Youth Justice - a Protocol guiding cross referral between homelessness and youth justice services.

  • Family Violence/MARAM - information about the MARAM framework within which homelessness services operate when responding to people impacted by family violence.

  • Practice Guidelines for Homelessness Services in their interaction with the NDIS.

  • An Aboriginal Cultural Safety Framework for the Specialist Homelessness Sector.

Key statewide guidelines
Homelessness Guidelines and Conditions of Funding

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 families, Fairness and Housing (DFFH) through the Homelessness & Accommodation Support area in DFFH centrally and through the DFFH Area Offices.

All homelessness services are funded to work in accordance with key funding guidelines developed by DFFH, 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.

Homelessness Guidelines and Conditions of Funding May 2014
This document is prepared by DFFH 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. 

To view or download a copy of the Homelessness Services Guidelines and Conditions of Funding please click below.  DFFH has released several updates to the Homelessness Guidelines relating to practice through the COVID-19 pandemic. The latest update is below.

The Opening Doors Framework

The Opening Doors Framework outlines the principles and practices that underpin homelessness practice across Victoria. The approach include  client assessment, referral, resource allocation and coordination approaches that should be applied consistently across the Victorian Homelessness Service System.

The three documents of the Framework guide the Local Area Services Networks (LASNs) 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 individuals/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 Framework, Practice Guide and Coordination Guide.

Cross Regional Referral Protocol

These guidelines enhance the collaborative working relationship between Entry/Access 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 (PRAP) Guidelines

These guidelines set out the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing minimum program requirements for service providers delivering the Private Rental Assistance Program (PRAP).

The guidelines aim to ensure service providers implement PRAP in a way that is consistent with program objectives, supports ongoing improvement and provides accountability for the outcomes achieved with service users. 
PRAP is a preventative intervention that provides holistic support to households experiencing or at risk of homelessness. It should be delivered in a flexible manner, to provide support and practical assistance that is tailored to the needs of each household. PRAP includes three elements:

  • Private rental brokers
  • Private rental assistance brokerage
  • PRAP Plus – support program

Prison Exits Protocol

This Protocol document, developed by the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing, 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 Families, Fairness and Housing (formerly 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.

Family Violence MARAM

The Family Violence Multi-Agency Risk Assessment and Management Framework (MARAM) has been designed to increase the safety and wellbeing of Victorians by supporting prescribed services to identify, assess and manage family violence risk effectively.

MARAM sets out key principles and pillars that should be embedded into an organisation’s policies, procedures, practice guidance and tools. MARAM also identifies the responsibilities of various organisations and staff across the system.

MARAM has been established in law under a new Part 11 of the Family Violence Protection Act 2008. It creates a shared responsibility between prescribed services and sectors. This collaborative approach provides more options to keep victim survivors safe and it supports a more coordinated approach to keep perpetrators in view and accountable for their actions.

Click here for:  MARAM practice guides and resources | Victorian Government (

Below is a fact sheet developed by the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing.

Practice Guidelines for Homelessness Services in their Interaction with the NDIS

These guidelines, developed by the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing, outline the expectations of how Victoria’s homelessness services should and can work with the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) and its partners – Registered Provider of Supports (RPoS), Local Area Coordinators (LACs) or Support Coordinator and Early Childhood Partners (ECP) - to support good outcomes for current or prospective NDIS participants; and provide general information about what can be expected from the NDIA and its partners. The guidelines apply specifically to services funded under the Victorian Housing Support and Homelessness Assistance funding activity descriptions which provide: • Initial contact and support (including intake and assessment; information and referral services) • Homeless Person’s Support Services (such as day programs and mobile outreach programs) • Case managed support within the homelessness service system (including crisis, transitional, intensive, tenancy and supported accommodation support)

Aboriginal Homelessness: An Aboriginal Cultural Safety Framework for the Specialist Homelessness Sector

The Council to Homeless Persons has prepared this Cultural Safety Framework for homelessness services in Victoria.

"Homelessness ends when every Aboriginal person has a home. It is unacceptable that 17 per cent of Aboriginal Victorians need the support of specialist homelessness services. If the general population were to experience this level of homelessness it would be equivalent to one million Victorians. We recognise that dispossession and colonisation are ongoing and are present in processes that result in increased homelessness, including over-incarceration, child removal, and housing discrimination. We also recognise that separation and removal from traditional lands and disconnection from cultural networks has resulted in the ongoing spiritual homelessness experienced by many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities. We commend the development of Mana-na woorn-tyeen maar-takoort, the Victorian Aboriginal Housing and Homelessness Framework. It is a multi-faceted strategy designed to address the unique homelessness and housing challenges faced by Aboriginal Victorians so that they achieve quality housing outcomes in a generation. The Specialist Homelessness Sector is committed to actively engaging in the implementation of Mana-na woorn-tyeen maar-takoort."


H2H and H4F

The Department of Families, Fairness and Housing established the Homelessness to a Home and Homes for Families programs, to provide linked medium term housing and support for individual and households who experienced homelessness through Victoria's lockdowns and who were accommodated in hotels through this period. The priority for H2H was people who were previously sleeping rough.  

You can access the program guidelines here: