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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 03 Hansard (Thursday, 18 March 2010) . . Page.. 1144 ..

housing stock in the ACT, as is detailed in the parliamentary agreement. This figure of 10 per cent housing is also argued by ACTCOSS and the YWCA in their submissions to DHCS.

The federal government’s stimulus housing does make a significant contribution towards the ACT meeting this goal, but it is also important that the ACT government sustains and builds on these numbers. The concern from the housing and community sector is that over coming years state and territory governments will use the stimulus housing boost as an opportunity to dispose of a great number of public housing dwellings that are in poor condition.

While ACTCOSS welcomes the housing first initiative, its submission stresses the need to retain a range of crisis and transitional accommodation options for people experiencing homelessness. There is no one clear solution for people suffering homelessness. There are a number of groups that make up the population, and each has its own unique requirements. Services must be tailored to suit each group and each individual and it should not be a one-size-fits-all approach.

While some homeless people will be assisted quite obviously by being given a home straightaway and receiving wraparound services, some homeless people may work better in a situation where they are housed in emergency and group-style accommodation and where they are assisted and prepared to live on their own. Young people, migrants or refugees and women who suffer domestic violence are particular groups who may not be suitable for housing first. Migrant women are a particularly vulnerable group as they have very specific needs. To quote Marluce Peters from the ACTCOSS submission to the DHCS discussion paper:

The plight of migrant women in a violent relationship is often especially difficult. If they have not been issued a visa of their own, their visa ties them to the perpetrator which places them at a higher risk of being severely abused. This dependence can only be countered if countries guarantee migrant women separate residence and work permits that do not tie them to their husbands and families.

Migrant women must also be given sufficient social and economic support to enable them to start a life of their own. They often have access to fewer resources and are barred from social benefits. This makes it all the more important to admit abused migrant women to refuges. For them and their children, a refuge may well be the only place where they are safe and supported.

As Ms Porter has also mentioned, I would like to refer to people with mental illness, as they are also a particularly vulnerable group. This can be because there are difficulties experienced in maintaining stable housing due to the episodic nature of mental illness. The idea of the continuum housing will not be appropriate for people with episodic conditions and, indeed, other groups I have already mentioned, such as women experiencing domestic violence, as there may be difficulties in maintaining employment and health treatments, for example. If support services are not provided and if they are placed in inappropriate housing, there is a real risk that they may lose their housing and fall into a vicious cycle of homelessness.

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