Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2022 Week 04 Hansard (Tuesday, 3 May 2022) . . Page.. 1069 ..
Housing ACT—application process
MS VASSAROTTI (Kurrajong—Minister for the Environment, Minister for Heritage, Minister for Homelessness and Housing Services and Minister for Sustainable Building and Construction) (11.25): I rise today to update the Assembly on work happening at Housing ACT to enhance and improve their gateway services through the re-imagining gateway services project. This project is part of a series of major systems improvement projects that Housing ACT is implementing, and has now been further informed by lessons learned through the COVID pandemic lockdown.
Gateway Services is the public face of Housing ACT. This is where people go to access information regarding public and community housing, and to apply for public and community housing. Applying for public housing and completing all of the necessary paperwork can often be confusing and stressful. We understand that many people go through this process while also experiencing the stress of housing insecurity.
Gateway Services do an incredible job of responding to 23,000 presentations to the central access point at Nature Conservation House, located in Belconnen, each year, assessing 1,800 applications per year and preparing applications for the multidisciplinary panel which helps identify those applications that need to be given the highest priority.
During lockdown, Housing ACT’s central access point had to make rapid adjustments to be able to continue services to existing housing tenants and to continue assessing new applications. In order to do this, Housing ACT continued to service the public through maintaining minimum staffing numbers on the floor; implementing successful working from home protocols; messaging changed arrangements through social media and other communication channels; and ensuring that the public had access to various forms of contact with Housing ACT staff. The central access point and other operational areas in Housing ACT remained open throughout the period.
Of course, the impacts of the pandemic have not stopped. The impacts of COVID-19 and increases to the cost of rent across Canberra mean that more people in our community need to access public housing for the provision of safe and affordable housing.
I want to acknowledge and thank Housing ACT staff who are still being impacted themselves by the pandemic. As is the case with many workplaces now, Housing ACT are dealing with a regular number of staff needing to take time off work to recover from having COVID or care for loved ones in the same situation. I am proud of how hard they have continued to work, not only to keep normal services going but to deliver on major reform projects to improve Housing’s services to the community.
This re-imagining gateway services project is one of those important reforms and improvements. It will make the process of applying for public housing simpler and more efficient for people, as well as supporting good decision-making within Housing ACT.