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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 04 Hansard (Thursday, 22 April 2021) . . Page.. 1058 ..

Do not forget, this government owns and operates the policy and supply levers that can readily fix this problem. It is not just this side of the chamber that sees the pressing need for a solution. As I just mentioned, ACTCOSS have called for a steep increase in public housing. A former Chief Minister from the Labor side whose name I will not mention again—he is a bit like Voldemort in here—is pretty much in despair over this Greens-Labor government’s failure in this space. Observations made by the former Chief Minister that the community housing sector has been emasculated and the working class priced out of the detached housing market should not be taken lightly by either side of this chamber.

In conclusion, the appropriation bill is failing the public housing sector, failing the community and seemingly failing the Labor Party’s very own core beliefs. This sorry situation prevails despite a raft of housing summits, think tanks, planning strategies and stakeholder consultations. We have to ask ourselves whether this appropriation provides value for money for Canberrans. I do not think so. I think that it is time for a short, sharp, rethink about the failures inherent in this appropriation bill.

MS BERRY (Ginninderra—Deputy Chief Minister, Minister for Early Childhood Development, Minister for Education and Youth Affairs, Minister for Housing and Suburban Development, Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence, Minister for Sport and Recreation and Minister for Women) (11.36): I welcome the opportunity to speak on the government’s ongoing support for public housing in the ACT and talk about some of the budget items that go towards supporting public housing and managing the government’s most valuable asset of 11,000 public housing properties that provide safe and secure housing to over 20,000 Canberrans.

In my portfolio responsibilities the 2020-21 budget includes funding for two identified positions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff within the Community Services Directorate. These will be dedicated to the establishment of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled housing organisation to support housing access for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The recruitment processes for these positions is well underway and will be an important first step in meeting the government’s commitment to help support the establishment of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled housing organisation in Canberra.

Working with Minister Vassarotti, the 2020-21 budget began delivering on the parliamentary and governing agreement to expand the capacity of specialist homelessness services with $18 million over four years. The first tranche will see $2.6 million to support the expansion of the early morning centre to a seven-day-a-week service; increased emergency support and accommodation funding for OneLink; additional funding for ACT Shelter to provide systemic advocacy to the housing and services sector; continued funding for Mackillop House and Winter Lodge services that were established in partnership with CatholicCare and Argyle Housing in response to COVID-19; and expansion of Axial Housing’s successful Housing First model. The new services that commenced during COVID were the silver lining of last year when the government and the community sector worked together to establish and fund these projects as quickly as possible. I am glad to see them continuing to support the Canberra community.

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