Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 03 Hansard (Thursday, 18 March 2010) . . Page.. 1142 ..
I know that it is the preferred option of many older people in our community to remain where their relationships are, where their local shops are, where their friends are obviously, and their day-to-day activities. Two hundred and forty properties will be provided under this initiative and it will make a significant impact on homelessness and on the disadvantaged.
Members will be pleased to know that Housing ACT is also undertaking a needs analysis of older public housing tenants to assess the suitability of their current housing adequacy, of their support networks. And I will be very interested to read the results of this analysis.
Examples I have given demonstrate the range of approaches that are being implemented to respond to homelessness. Homelessness is a complex issue and it does require a range of responses. It does require collaborative approaches. It does require us to work as a whole community—government, all the government agencies and all the community agencies. These initiatives, along with an existing range of specialist homelessness services, represent a comprehensive strategy which is among the best, if not the best, in the nation.
The ACT government will continue to work to build relationships across the community, continue to respond to these issues, continue to explore the needs of the homeless to ensure that we are appropriately responding, adequately responding at all times. It is a big challenge but I know that, with government, with all our government agencies and with the community, we can do this together and we can continue to deliver a comprehensive strategy, as I said, which is among the best, if not the best, in the nation. And I commend this discussion to the rest of the members this afternoon. I think it is a very important matter that we need to discuss.
MS BRESNAN (Brindabella) (3.38): I thank Ms Porter for raising this matter of public importance today. The ACT Greens believe access to safe, secure and affordable housing is a human right and an essential prerequisite to social equity. If people do not have secure housing, it is very difficult for other areas of their lives to be addressed, including health and employment.
It is often said by organisations like ACTCOSS that, in a city like Canberra, we should be aiming for zero homelessness, and the Greens agree with this statement. According to the 2006 census, the ACT then had approximately 1,354 people who were homeless. This figure can also be described as a rate of homelessness at 42 per 10,000, up from the 2001 census that showed there were 40 people homeless per 10,000 people. This is quite a significant figure when you look at the population of the ACT. The current rate of homelessness in the ACT is unacceptable and must be reduced as a matter of urgency.
People who make up the homeless population generally reflect those who are most vulnerable in our community. Some 76 per cent of our homeless are under 35, and 22 per cent are children under the age of 12. Women comprise 53 per cent of the homeless population, compared with 44 per cent nationally. Although Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people made up 1.25 per cent of the ACT population in the