Page 3989 - Week 12 - Thursday, 20 October 2005
Dr Foskey also claims that the report contains data that is out of date. At the time of writing, the report contained the latest data available. The Real Estate Institute of Australia figures for the March quarter 2005 were not released until late June, just days before the completed report was due to be tabled in the Assembly. This government and, I am sure, the opposition are not skilled in gazing into the bottom of teacups. It would appear, though, we are talking about Green tea.
Dr Foskey suggests that the report fails to recognise the housing difficulties experienced by people with a disability and people with mental health issues. That is simply incorrect. These groups are routinely assisted through the ACT government’s focus on allocating public housing to those most in need. A large number of people on the highest priority list for public housing, early allocations category 1, have mental health issues and a range of other complex needs. It is misleading to suggest that only issues of affordability place such people in housing needs.
Mr Speaker, just as an aside on the notion that we have abandoned people with a disability, in the past two years $3 million was expended and we modified 910 homes; that is, one in 12 of the properties in the stock was modified for people with a disability. I do not call that abandoning people with a disability.
Mrs Burke: What about private sector people giving a hand.
MR HARGREAVES: The accusation levelled at the government is that it is letting people down in public housing, a notion I reject. Also, there is the accusation that we are not doing anything about mental health issues. We have specialist housing managers who have pathways and gateways for people so that we actually look at people’s tenancies as being sustainable in a holistic approach to their lives. We bring to bear the fruits of the partnerships between Mental Health ACT and some of the non-government sector experts in mental health issues, along with things such as debt management and a whole range of personal education activities, including immunisation for babies and nutrition, to assist the tenants within the public housing stock.
Do I see any of that in the private sector? The short answer is no, Mr Speaker. Do I see the private rental sector modifying eight per cent of its stock to suit disabled people? No, I do not. Recently, we opened at Freycinet on the Burnie Court site 24 units of adaptable housing to allow people to age in place. They will be available for adapting when people become frailer. We have those programs and I have to say that I reject the notion that we are abandoning those people.
We have also to understand that roughly $2 million was made available in the last two years to some non-government organisations to provide disability-specific accommodation. Some people disagree with the Abbeyfield disability system and some people do not. Claims that we are not providing resources to that sector are to be rejected. The fact that we have allocated almost $1 million to Centacare to provide five properties for that sector is also some measure of the discharge of our responsibilities.
I do not say that we are doing everything spot on, as we are not, but we are doing a heck of a lot more these days than has ever been done before. We have the runs on the board. This affordable housing report is about a point in time—it is work in progress, if you