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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 02 Hansard (Thursday, 11 February 2021) . . Page.. 517 ..

engagement with the community that we hope will lead to a really great outcome in Molonglo.

I think it is plain to see that there are going to be many important opportunities for a new Molonglo Valley community council to have its say on important infrastructure projects and services for the region over the coming years. The ACT government will continue to invest in and build more infrastructure for our growing city, particularly in our greenfields suburbs that need that infrastructure established for the first time. So it is more important than ever that we have a representative group to speak to the residents of our fastest growing region. I would like to acknowledge the role of the members of the Weston Creek Community Council, who have played an important role during the first years of the Molonglo Valley’s existence in advocating on behalf of both the Molonglo Valley and Weston Creek, and I commend Dr Paterson’s motion to the Assembly.

MS DAVIDSON (Murrumbidgee—Assistant Minister for Families and Community Services, Minister for Disability, Minister for Justice Health and Minister for Mental Health) (5.30): I thank Dr Paterson for the opportunity to discuss the need for a funded community council in Molonglo Valley. It would be easy to look at the Molonglo Valley’s newly built homes and playgrounds and think that the issues for residents in these suburbs are primarily those of middle-class new homeowners. In contrast, 2016 census data shows that the Molonglo Valley community is diverse and includes many households managing difficult circumstances. Residents include people who are renting and people living in public housing.

Compared to other areas of Canberra, Wright and Coombs residents include a very high proportion of young people aged 15 to 24, who are mostly still studying or in their early careers, with low personal incomes and are therefore reliant on the income of their parents or partners for their household’s middle-income status. There are also high proportions of women aged 65 years or older in middle-income households who are reliant on the income of their partners for their middle-income status, as many women in this age group are no longer in full-time paid work and have low or no superannuation of their own. Should these women experience domestic or family violence or elder abuse, or should the higher earners in their households lose their income, they may be at risk of homelessness. There are high proportions of single parent households in the Molonglo Valley and high proportions of women living in Coombs, in particular, who work part-time in low-paid industries such as community services, retail and hospitality. These households would all be greatly affected by the economic impacts of COVID-19, including job losses.

What all of this means is that there are many households in the Molonglo Valley facing economic stress, for whom access to community services and strong community council advocacy is essential to ensure housing affordability, food security, access to education and community connection and social inclusion. The work of organisations such as Woden Community Services and the Molonglo Valley Mingle are vitally important for this growing and diverse community, and yet there is no functional community centre in the Molonglo Valley. For this reason I have written to Minister Steel to advocate for ongoing access to a work space for community services organisations in the Molonglo Valley. While I am awaiting his

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