Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 13 Hansard (15 November) . . Page.. 4127..
MR HARGREAVES (continuing):
This is why engagement and communication with our tenants is so important. It is essential that we involve them in decisions that affect their lives and their homes. We have a range of engagement initiatives, which involve support groups, peak and umbrella groups, and tenants themselves speaking with the Department of Disability, Housing and Community Services and directly with me.
Since the last AIHW survey in 2003-the same year as the creation of the Department of Disability, Housing and Community Services-the staff and management of Housing ACT have been working towards increasing tenant satisfaction. Following the survey, staff members conducted tenant focus groups to ask what it is that tenants want and need from the department. These have proved extremely useful to staff and management and they are continuing as a regular activity.
Tenant service visits have been increased, with staff now visiting more than 101/2 thousand tenants per year. I am very pleased to report that these efforts have paid off. The AIHW's national housing survey 2005 has recorded a marked increase in tenant satisfaction in public housing in Canberra. The survey shows a significant improvement in tenant satisfaction, from 59 per cent in 2003 to 65 per cent in 2005, with the level of dissatisfaction falling three per cent to 14 per cent.
Encouragingly, the survey records steady improvement in satisfaction with the general service provided to clients by the staff of Housing ACT. This can be attributed to management efforts to improve customer service. For example, from 2003 to 2005 there was a significant six per cent increase in satisfaction with the availability of clear information to tenants and a five per cent increase in satisfaction with the knowledge of staff.
The government and Housing ACT would like nothing more than to see this satisfaction level continue to rise in coming surveys. We recently initiated a tenant participation project. Administered by ACT Shelter and the Tenants' Union, this project explored new ways to involve tenants in matters that affect them. The "Raising our Voice"report was submitted to the government earlier this year. Tenant and community groups will now be able to apply for a slice of the $90,000 that the government has allocated to support tenant participation. I look forward to that.
I congratulate the staff and management of Housing ACT on this great outcome and encourage them in their endeavours to continue to improve our public housing system. I also encourage those members who have been critical of Housing ACT management-particularly Mrs Burke, who earlier this year alleged that the public housing system was corrupt-to read this report and acknowledge the improvements made. I look forward to the public apology from Mrs Burke for the accusation of corruption made by her in the Liberal Party website article of 11 June 2005, which I table. I look forward to the apology from Mrs Burke for saying that the system is corrupt, the inference being that the people who manage the system are also that way. I would like that apology.
MRS BURKE: My question is to the Minister for Disability, Housing and Community Services, Mr Hargreaves. Minister, given that recommendations to retain and upgrade