Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 9 Hansard (21 September) . . Page.. 3049..
MS GALLAGHER: I thank Ms Porter for her question and for her interest in the services and residents at Ainslie Village. As part of the budget, the government announced that it would continue the work of transitioning Ainslie Village to a community housing style of accommodation. Some of the impetus for this work originated with the residents, who wish Ainslie Village to be viewed as the type of place people want to live rather than the place that people are forced to live.
In line with that, the government sought to modify the provision of food services at Ainslie Village. To date, the dining room has provided a hot-plate meal to about one-third to one-half of the residents of Ainslie Village. That service has been provided out of SAAP funding. The government recognises that the intention of SAAP money is to transition people from homelessness to independent living and that an important part of this process is to ensure that those who are able to cook for themselves are encouraged to do so. As such, we have been talking with a number of community sector providers about the future of food provision at Ainslie Village.
From the numbers I have just mentioned, 60 to 80 of the 170 residents eat at the dining room each night. It is clear that the majority of residents, or a considerable number of them, are already making their own provision for meals. Centacare is currently funded to provide dining room services until 30 September this year. The government sought to extend this arrangement until February 2007 so that the independence of the residents at Ainslie Village could be assessed through a transitional period. Unfortunately, Centacare was not in a position to continue this service.
However, we have just reached agreement with the Red Cross for them to provide alternative meal arrangements on site from 1 September until 30 June next year. That will ensure that there will be a significant amount of time, nine months, when a safety net for meals will be available for residents as they are being encouraged to cook for themselves. We will look at how the residents cope with this change and determine how many will remain dependent on meals after June 2007.
The Red Cross will provide regular reports to the government and other stakeholders on the residents identified as most vulnerable and appropriate referral to on-site support providers. In addition, the Red Cross will provide life skills training throughout the transition period to help people learn to shop and cook and to create a more home-like environment in their shared living spaces.
A number of constituents have raised with me how important the dining room is to communal and social interaction at Ainslie Village. With that in mind, the Red Cross will canvass and encourage resident involvement in volunteering to assist in the serving of meals and other activities associated with the new food arrangements, such as setting up the dining room and cleaning up afterwards.
The government is also anxious to ensure that the residents, as much as possible, are provided with facilities to encourage further independent living. On this basis, we are upgrading communal kitchens at Ainslie Village to ensure that there is one stove or cook top provided for every four residents, that there is one lockable cupboard per resident and that there is additional bench space provided in all kitchens to assist with