Page 4413 - Week 14 - Tuesday, 22 November 2005

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At this stage the ACT government does not self-insure. There are considerable financial risks to the territory associated with self-insurance. It is not something the government has considered at this time. That said, I have asked my department to do further work on other options to facilitate the option of homebirth for women in the ACT because I believe it is important that we do everything possible to give women that choice. If they want to and are able to give birth to their child or children in their own homes, that option should be open to them. I have asked my department to explore all possible avenues to facilitate that. At this stage, however, there is no change to the policy as those options are being further developed.

DR FOSKEY: Mr Speaker, I have a supplementary question. Is the minister aware that there is now only one practising independent midwife in the ACT and that a number have left to seek work elsewhere? In the knowledge that many women who would prefer a homebirth and with the difficulty of getting into the birthing centre, is he prepared to do everything he can to speed up this process?

MR CORBELL: I do not believe it is the government’s job to provide insurance cover for private health practitioners, whether they are midwives, surgeons, doctors or physiotherapists. It is their job to get insurance for their practice as private practitioners. The government has assisted in trying to find insurance products for those people but, at the end of the day, it is not the government’s job to provide insurance to people in private health practice. The issue of public midwives is another matter. That is where I think we have to explore all possible avenues and that is what I have asked my department to do.


MS MacDONALD: My question is to the Minister for Disability, Housing and Community Services. Would the minister please update the Assembly on the recent performance of Housing ACT?

MR HARGREAVES: I thank Ms MacDonald for the question. The recent performance of Housing ACT across a range of key indicators has been very encouraging. I am pleased to be able to report to the Assembly that waiting lists for public housing have fallen from 2,537 in June 2004 to 2,350 as at 5.00 pm yesterday. I am also pleased to report that so far this financial year there has been a 46 per cent increase in the number of new tenants housed per month. An average of 79 new tenants per month have been housed in the 2005-06 financial year to date compared to 54 new tenants per month achieved in 2004-05.

As I noted in the Assembly last week, public housing is a resource in high demand. We have 11,560 public housing properties and around 500 community housing properties in the social housing system. This is up from the 11,454 we inherited from the previous government and it takes into account the 81 properties lost in the bushfires. The reasons for this growth are twofold: firstly, the $33.2 million capital injection in 2003-04 that enabled the purchase of 82 public housing properties for $27 million, with the balance of $6.2 million provided for expansion of community housing; and, secondly, the four-year $20 million capital injection that started in 2004-05. Sixteen additional properties were acquired in 2004-05 and a further 45 properties are expected over the next three years.

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