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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 7 Hansard (26 June) . . Page.. 2579..


Supplementary answer to a question without notice

Refugees

MR WOOD: On Thursday of last week, Ms Tucker asked me a question concerning the provision of housing to refugees. The 1999 Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement provides housing assistance to ensure that people here have access to affordable and appropriate housing. While the CSHA does not make specific mention of housing assistance for refugees, the ACT government provides a range of assistance measures to refugees funded under that agreement.

Humanitarian entrants-that is, people who have been granted permanent residency by the Commonwealth-are eligible for public housing assistance in the same way as any other ACT resident. Refugees who have not been approved for permanent residency by the Commonwealth, such as holders of temporary protection visas, are, under the standard criteria but not as a direct result of the Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement, not eligible for public housing. However, the Commissioner for Housing has the ability to waive the eligibility criteria in cases of hardship.

The number of TPV holders coming to the ACT and staying has been relatively few. However, the ACT government has been quite concerned that the Commonwealth government has transported TPV holders from places of detention to cities round Australia and left them with little support. Accordingly, the ACT government has provided accommodation to a number of refugee families with temporary protection visas by leasing ACT Housing properties to non-government organisations. These properties have been leased at full market rent, though the TPV holders are able to access Commonwealth rent assistance on the same benefits as other recipients of Centrelink benefits. It should be noted that public housing tenants are not eligible for Commonwealth rent assistance.

It has recently come to the attention of the government that this arrangement may be causing undue hardship for some TPV holders as they may be paying a significant proportion of income in rent and the government has agreed to review that arrangement. In addition, the new rental bond scheme that I will announce today, which will commence on 1 July 2003, has the same eligibility criteria as the public housing program, and hence offers the potential for TPV holders to access assistance should they rent in the private market.

Paper

Mr Stanhope presented the following paper:

ACT Criminal Justice-Statistical profile for the March 2003 quarter.

Financial Management Act-instruments

Papers and statement by minister

MR QUINLAN (Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Business and Tourism and Minister for Sport, Racing and Gaming): For the information of members, I present the following papers:


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