Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2011 Week 03 Hansard (Thursday, 31 March 2011) . . Page.. 1197 ..
target of a seven per cent decrease in homelessness figures by 2013, as you committed to via COAG and as you assured the Assembly on 9 March?
MS BURCH: Whilst we have data that shows a very high demand, we have put programs in place for rough sleepers and also these transitional houses. As I have also said, it is about providing outreach support as well, which we are doing through sustaining tenancies. I believe there is nothing to indicate, this data and demand aside, that we will not meet our target under our housing agreements. But I agree with you: the demand showing now through first point is challenging, and it is not what we expected to see. That is why we will need to work with the department and the sector in partnership to make sure that we respond as we can to the demand.
MS HUNTER: A supplementary question, Mr Speaker?
MR SPEAKER: Yes, Ms Hunter.
MS HUNTER: Minister, is it true that, during the recent roundtable on homelessness, you and your department disputed the numbers of people who were rough sleepers and stated that there were technically 10 and not around 150?
MS BURCH: From that roundtable I do not think there were any disputes as such. There was a discussion about rough sleepers. Indeed, there was some nuance around whether they are new rough sleepers and around the terminology about needing to support those that are new to the streets with a different level of support to those who are perhaps more entrenched in a practice, for whatever reasons as a result of their complex life histories and circumstances, and are more long-term rough sleepers.
I do not think there were disputes. It was a very open conversation; it was a good, useful conversation about how can we as a sector support rough sleepers not only in the response of accommodation—safe, secure shelter and accommodation—but those outreach support structures as well and where do growth reach funds go. If we put more growth reach funds in, does that mean we are not addressing the causal factors of homelessness as well?
So it was very useful. We will come back to those minutes and discussions and we will see what program enhancements we can take from those discussions with those partnerships across the sector.
MS LE COUTEUR: A supplementary, Mr Speaker?
MR SPEAKER: Yes, Ms Le Couteur.
MS LE COUTEUR: Minister, do you acknowledge that the increasing problems with housing and rental affordability and the rise in population are increasing the number of people who are homeless?
MS BURCH: I would say there are a whole range of cross-society factors that would impact on homelessness. Housing affordability and housing availability are certainly some of those aspects. We have a transient population. We have, in many ways, a