Page 1332 - Week 05 - Tuesday, 5 April 2005

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Crisis accommodation services

MR GENTLEMAN: My question, too, is to the Minister for Disability, Housing and Community Services. Can the minister please advise the Assembly of recent improvements to crisis accommodation services for families in Tuggeranong?

MR HARGREAVES: Yes. I had the great pleasure last week of opening the new YWCA offices in Tuggeranong and of launching their new family crisis accommodation program for families in the region. The funding of a crisis supported accommodation program for families in Tuggeranong was a key objective of Breaking the cycle: the ACT homelessness strategy and the government is keenly aware of the need to support disadvantaged families in the Tuggeranong region, and indeed across all of Canberra.

The new service, Families Experiencing Accommodation Transition in Tuggeranong, FEATT, provides an opportunity for homeless families to be accommodated in six houses across the Tuggeranong region. Incidentally, when we think about homeless people, very few of us think about families being homeless; we usually think of a homeless man. That seems to be the image conjured up and we often forget that there are whole families that are homeless. I was pleased that the YWCA, with its reputation for delivering high-quality services to homeless families and its established youth services in the region, was the successful tenderer for this program.

FEATT is the only family crisis accommodation service in the Tuggeranong region. Its regional focus allows families to maintain a link to their community. This is particularly important for families with school-age children. It gives kids a chance to stay connected to their schools and other support at a time of great upheaval in their lives.

The staff at FEATT are working hard with families to lessen the impact homelessness has on children. With a specialist children’s worker, the needs of children are at the forefront. Last year, one in 54 children aged zero to four in Australia attended a homelessness service with their family. In the ACT, 750 kids were supported by services such as FEATT.

Developing the connection families have with their community is an essential component of the crisis support provided to families at FEATT. It is also important to note that each family is allocated a housing support worker to assist the family to obtain long-term accommodation and to offer support to link the family to the Tuggeranong community, and to continue and maintain those links.

The ACT government has committed almost $3.1 million to new homelessness services this year, over and above the $4.8 million it already provides to the supported accommodation assistance program.

FEATT has been funded through the 2003-04 budget initiative “Responding to homelessness”. The new service receives more than $450,000 through the ACT Department of Disability, Housing and Community Services.

MR GENTLEMAN: I have a supplementary question, Mr Speaker. Can the minister advise of similar services operating in other parts of the ACT?

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