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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 11 Hansard (Thursday, 25 October 2018) . . Page.. 4307 ..

Young people discussed contemporary issues important to them under the themes of youth mental health, homelessness and young people, youth civic participation, equality and equity, and equality and equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people. Youth Advisory Council members co-facilitated each forum to explore creative solutions through group work and discussion. In the final session participants presented their recommendations to the Children and Young People Commissioner, Jodie Griffiths-Cook, and to me in the Assembly chamber.

Hosting the youth assembly is an important investment by this government in young people, demonstrating our commitment to their right to be heard. The Youth Advisory Council is currently compiling a report on the youth assembly, which will include the recommendations made by young people to address the four topics discussed. I look forward to receiving the council’s report and working through their recommendations.

This government is committed to working with children and young people to progress issues that matter to them. Young Canberrans are the future of our growing city, and they are also its present. This government looks forward to ongoing dialogue with all children and young people through both formal and informal interactions. We encourage young people to continue to think innovatively and assist us to make this city a place of inclusion for all Canberrans. We commit to listening, as it is their right to be heard.

MRS KIKKERT (Ginninderra) (4.01): Madam Assistant Speaker, thank you for bringing this matter of public importance to the Assembly today. As shadow minister for families, youth and community services, I am likewise concerned about the need to uphold the rights of children in the ACT, including their most basic rights. One of these, as noted in article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is the right to adequate housing. Unfortunately, far too many of the families who reside in my electorate of Ginninderra face constant worries about providing adequate shelter for their children.

Last year a report by Anglicare ACT determined that only 2.3 per cent of rental accommodation in Canberra was affordable for low income families. This was in contrast to four per cent in Sydney and 40 per cent across the other capital cities. Susan Helyar from the ACT Council of Social Service has pointed out the inadequacy of this number in light of the fact that 35,000 Canberra households survive on less than $500 per week before tax.

Many people would assume that the solution is to be found in public housing stock, but the figures here are likewise less than encouraging. As I noted in the Canberra Times earlier this year, whilst public housing accounted for 12.4 per cent of Canberra’s total stock in 1991, that figure has declined to 7.1 per cent.

What is the result, Madam Assistant Speaker? It is that the average time an applicant in Canberra now spends on the waiting list for public housing is 983 days. This is just four months short of a full three years on average. Meanwhile, as we all learned just two weeks ago, the ACT government has not updated its forecast of demand for public housing dwellings for more than six years.

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