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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 13 Hansard (26 November) . . Page.. 4652 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

houses 212 people a short walk away from Civic, with all its services and activity and bus connections to everywhere else in Canberra.

The residents survey conducted in May 2003, which heard from 52 per cent of the residents-slightly skewed towards older and longer term residents-asked whether residents were willing to move, do not want to move but accept there is a strong possibility that they may have to, or do not want to move. Fifty-four per cent identified as willing to move. This group matched the gender profile of Currong but tended to be younger and more recent tenants. Thirty-seven per cent do not want to move but accept that there is a strong possibility they may have to. Almost three-quarters of this group of people were male and were older and long-term residents. Half of these respondents have lived at Currong for more than 10 years. Eight per cent were not willing to move.

This was a small number of respondents, nine, so statistically it is difficult to draw conclusions. This was a mixed group, varying in age and tenancy duration.

What of the people who didn't respond? This is pure speculation but, judging from the distrust which I know some residents feel, there may well have been a reluctance, a feeling of "they won't listen to me anyway", among tenants to respond. It may be that people who want to stay also felt doomed and that there would be no point in expressing their views. I know this is speculation, but it does occur to me to wonder: what about the other 48 per cent of residents? Is this sample really going to reflect the weight of opinion among all residents?

Currong's problems, with which we are all too familiar, have to be considered in a broader context. Those now elderly, long-term residents who have very positive associations with the place and want to stay did not always have trouble in the multi-unit site. There are some important friendships among the residents that have come from the close proximity of the multi-units. For a large group of single residences, this configuration, at its most positive, reduces the risk of social isolation-something we were talking about yesterday in our debate on the state of aged care. At its most negative, of course, where there are people with problems, people who behave antisocially, the close proximity can mean intimidation; it can mean not feeling safe to go outside your own flat; it can mean finding syringes about the place.

One way to solve this problem is to disperse properties. The policy of not constructing new multi-unit public housing properties seeks to avoid the negatives. But the question of how to support and assist changes for people who are living dangerously remains. It won't necessarily help to scatter people in a salt-and-peppering arrangement.

These problems are about disenfranchised people; about poverty; about not having access to education, the same resources, the same chances; and often mental illness. The substance abuse problem comes on top of these issues and creates additional problems, made more complex by our treatment of drugs as a criminal rather than broad health matter.

That is why it is very important and encouraging that this government has strengthened their focus on assisting people living in disadvantage in ACT Housing. Recent announcements, with a promise of more to come, I hope, will really make headway in

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