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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 10 (19 October) . . Page.. 3340..

MR SPEAKER (continuing):

The impact of antisocial and criminal behaviour in the ACT.

MR PRATT (Brindabella) (4.58): Mr Speaker, I rise today to draw the attention of this place to the rising incidence of criminal and antisocial behaviour in the ACT, particularly in areas within close proximity to ACT Housing complexes. I intend to highlight only a few examples today, situations that I have witnessed at first hand and others that have been brought to my attention and to Mrs Jacqui Burke's attention by the concerned residents of both private and public housing in the areas, as well as shopkeepers of our local shopping centres.

I will start with the Red Hill Shops. This is an area that I have expended a lot of my energy on, and so has Mrs Burke. I am pleased to say that the minister and his predecessor have done something about this problem, but there is more to be done. Let us look at the Red Hill shops. Residential safety within the public housing complex in Red Hill is unacceptable, with the majority good-neighbour element of that public housing complex severely disrupted and endangered by a hard-core recidivist offender minority element.

During a shopping centre stall earlier this year, the purpose of which was to survey local residents' opinions and to collect petition signatures calling for more police protection in the area, I was approached by a number of public housing residents sick to their back teeth of the unruly situation pervading the public housing complex there. They spoke of constant harassment by the minority and, if not harassment, certainly ongoing violence and noise in the area. Even if they were not directly offended, it had begun to make their lives hell anyway.

I was particularly taken by the situation enveloping a number of single mothers who, at least at first glance, looked like thoroughly decent people, the victims of family break-ups. They were doing it tough financially, as is often the case in these situations, trying to find a new start to life and then suffering all manner of indecency. Why shouldn't women with children who have suffered a break-up somewhere and who are trying to start a new life and seeking to get residence in a government housing complex be allowed to have that fresh start in a safe and decent environment?

The hard core that we have talked about cause a disproportionate amount of crime, in particular at the Red Hill shops. The situation is somewhat improved but it continues to be a problem. Anecdotally, burglaries, theft and property crime in the area from the vicinity of the public housing complex down to the vicinity of the grammar school still appear to be quite high. Residential complaints and feedback are significantly high compared to many other neighbourhoods.

Many of the direct problems occurring in the shopping centre have quite significantly decreased, but the crime that occurs in the broader reach of that suburb, which is put down to people coming from the public housing complex, continues. The Red Hill shopping precinct has been regularly hit. Over a number of years they have suffered armed hold-ups, shoplifting, break-ins, property damage and vandalism through intimidation, even drug dealing and certainly personal intimidation and harassment of shoppers.

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