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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 9 Hansard (21 August) . . Page.. 2661 ..

MR HARGREAVES (continuing):

It needs to be stated for the record that, although to my knowledge, we have inquired into this matter for the first time, we are not looking at this in isolation-there are other people looking into similar issues.

The government was giving birth to the affordable housing task force. The government had also commissioned ACTCOSS and Morgan Disney Associates to do a needs analysis into homelessness in the ACT. Curiously, a lot of the recommendations that we have made, or given thought to making, are contained either in the recommendations from those two processes or stem from information contained in them. There are not many recommendations, because this is an ongoing issue.

Homelessness in the ACT is, by a long shot, one of the three most serious issues that we face. I recommend that members of the Assembly have a look at the report, and also that they have a detailed look at the needs analysis into homelessness in the ACT. If members will do that and indulge our committee, I will not need to go through heaps of that. Some of the statistics were quite frightening.

At any time in the ACT, there could be as many as 1,570 homeless people. That is staggering in this supposedly affluent society. There are 5,350 homeless people in this town in a year. That means 1.7% of the people of the ACT are without a home-without roofs over their heads.

The number of people sleeping rough is estimated to be between 120 and 315 a night. On that issue, I refer people to recommendation 1. It was sad to note that all of the people addressing homelessness, except those from the supported accommodation assistance program-known as SAAP-addressed the matter of sleeping rough.

The one federal government program which is supposed to chuck money at the thing did not recognise that definition. I understand from the minister that he has dealings with the Commonwealth about every five years on that. We are recommending that he approach his ministerial colleagues for that definition, to start the process of changing a little earlier than that.

Mr Speaker, one of the significant things we found when looking into this matter was the turn-away rates. I will not go into detail here, because the figures speak for themselves. The figures are nothing short of horrendous.

I wish to extend my appreciation to my colleagues on the committee-Ms Dundas and Mrs Cross. In particular, I thought that Ms Dundas' contribution was significant. I would also like to extend my appreciation to Judith Henderson, who stitched together the report. Trying to stitch together three minds, occasionally going in different directions, is not an easy task, but she did a great job. I also express appreciation, on behalf of the committee, to all of the people who made submissions, and to people who went out of their way. I also extend very sincere congratulations to ACTCOSS and Morgan Disney Associates for the needs analysis of homelessness in the ACT. This report is a seminal document-something which will drive this issue for some considerable years to come.

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