Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 10 Hansard (Thursday, 17 September 2015) . . Page.. 3201 ..
There are some really important community partnerships that the government values very much, and we will continue to provide funding to support these initiatives. Indeed, in 2015-16 over $17 million was provided to community sector mental health, an increase from the $15.9 million provided in the 2014-15 budget. That is a very strong demonstration of this government’s commitment to working with community in tackling the challenges of mental health and mental illness in our city.
MS LAWDER: My question is to the Minister for Housing. Minister, Homelessness Australia notes that homelessness in the ACT has increased by 70.6 per cent from the 2006 census to the 2011 census. The increase is much higher than other states and territories, including NSW where homelessness has increased by 20.4 per cent since 2006. FirstPoint data shows that as at the end of August 601 people were waiting to be placed by FirstPoint into homelessness accommodation. Housing ACT figures show that there are already 2,147 applications on the housing register waiting list as at 7 September 2015, 85 of whom are categorised as priority. Minister, why are Canberrans who are experiencing homelessness and who are on the priority housing waiting list waiting 253 days on average for housing?
MS BERRY: Thanks, Ms Lawder, for that question. As Ms Lawder knows, public housing in the ACT is targeted at those most in need. In fact, the housing waiting list in the ACT has been quite stable for the last 12 months—it has not gone up from what it was previously. We have often talked in this place about the support services in place for people who are on public housing waiting lists.
While people are on public housing waiting lists, Housing ACT works with these individuals to identify and respond to their specific needs and the circumstances that they indentify while they are waiting for their applications to be approved as eligible. This is the fundamental part of the work FirstPoint does in the ACT in making sure those people who have applied for housing are provided with the services that best meet their needs.
MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Ms Lawder.
MS LAWDER: Minister, why, according to FirstPoint, were only 48 people placed into homelessness accommodation in August when there were 601 people waiting for homelessness accommodation as at the end of August?
MS BERRY: Without actually being able to go into the detail of the data that Ms Lawder has referred to about those particular people who had applied for housing in the ACT, as we know, FirstPoint does a really great job in making sure that those people who have applied for housing in the ACT are receiving the support services that they need whilst they are on the application list and whilst their application is being assessed.
It is important to note—and Ms Lawder knows this; she has experience in this area—that many people who have applied for housing in the ACT have many other