Page 1072 - Week 04 - Tuesday, 3 May 2022

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Mr Assistant Speaker, you could be forgiven for believing that the government has, in the past, gone to great measures to make it as difficult to apply for public housing as it could possibly be—to put many speed bumps in place. It would be interesting to see, if the process were easier, what that waiting list would be like. Waiting times for standard housing are over four years. For high needs it is almost three, and for priority it is almost one year. I repeat: almost one year for priority.

To add to this pressure of finding social housing for over 3,000 applications, the internal transfer list for current tenants who are in unsuitable housing is over a thousand, with the standard waiting list at almost four years.

When some of the people on these waiting lists contact me, they say, “I’ve been driving around. I’m on this waiting list; I keep on writing. Can you write to the minister?” I say, “We can have a crack, but it’s a long list.” They drive around and they tell us about the vacant housing properties that they drive past month after month, and you can understand their frustration.

The need is growing, and that has been elaborated by the minister, even in this speech today. As Minister Vassarotti said, throughout an application process alone, multiple documents are required, which can result in multiple visits and emails, and some of the hard-copy documents and emails, certainly based on the feedback that we get, seem to get lost in the system. I know that the minister would have had the same feedback, and that is frustrating. It is frustrating for tenants who need to constantly provide the same documents. I certainly hope that this new system, when it is in place, will alleviate those problems.

It is great to hear that, over three years in to the 2018 Housing Strategy, goal number 3, including developing a new service delivery approach, client portal and online services, is finally taking shape. It is a deep disappointment that it has taken this long to get to this stage when, for years, applications could have gone online to help assist Housing ACT and applicants.

Hopefully, bringing Housing ACT online means that there will be fewer cases of lost paperwork, and for clients to need to submit documents only once and have better and more instant notifications. The Canberra Liberals hope that, by bringing Housing ACT applications and more online, it will include better responsiveness by Housing ACT to let applicants know where their application sits and what they have been approved for.

We hope that there will be an opportunity to provide easier reviews to be completed and an improved tracking system. Further, this announcement of digital record keeping finally brings Housing ACT into the 21st century, like most other government departments—less room for missing paperwork due to human error and better accountability for all.

We welcome this announcement; but we hope that, throughout the process, there is more communication, more accountability, and certainly a better system for implementing this than, for argument’s sake, for the rental rebate system project.

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