Page 1297 - Week 04 - Thursday, 10 April 2008

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in the Fraser Court model. Minister, will you take this decision to its logical conclusion and review the suitability of other existing large public housing complexes, with a view to, if it is appropriate, selling them off to allow investment in other possibly more suitable properties?

MR HARGREAVES: I thank Mr Mulcahy for the question. It is true that the multiunit complex model was, I suppose, appropriate for its time in the 1950s and the 1960s. Over time, the model has developed into a dysfunctional, inefficient and quite inappropriate model to house people. In fact, what it does is encourages the collection together of people with like problems of dysfunction in our community. It also does not allow us, as a society, to introduce interventions which will have a long-lasting effect, because the environment itself works so often to the contrary of those particular interventions.

In answer to Mr Mulcahy’s question, the short answer is yes. The long answer is that I have asked my department to consider bringing forward a paper for consideration by cabinet on a way forward. We have already introduced a number of changes to the way in which we allocate housing specifically to address the need of the applicant. In the past, people’s needs have been a secondary consideration, until the Stanhope Labor government came to office. Now the allocation is based on need, as part of a range of supports that we bring to bear to assist people to a better life.

What we need to do, though, is consider how this can be done with respect to multiunit properties. When we now apply moneys that we have realised through the sale of real estate—it can be the sale of stand-alone properties or, in the case of Fraser Court, the sale of a multiunit property—it affords us the opportunity to address the style of housing that we would apply.

We need to address two issues. One is to make sure that we provide accommodation suitable for those people already there. The experience we have had in Fraser Court is that, when we have relocated people, it has been to a situation where people have had a much more successful life. The other supports that we bring to bear are contained within the community at large. They are not concentrated in the one spot. However, we also need to take into consideration the needs of the people on the list, which is our paramount one at the moment.

What we are doing, as members would know, is salt-and-peppering through the community. That salt-and-peppering can be in the form of stand-alone houses. We are now talking about smaller sized blocks so that the amount of money that we are actually investing will realise a smaller house.

We also understand that the people in the public housing system will go from different sized accommodation throughout their lifecycle. But we are also making sure that people have an opportunity to age in place so that, when we use money, like from the sale of Fraser Court, we can actually provide accommodation in the suburbs where those sales occurred. If a person wants to downsize out of a three-bedroom home because the spouse has died or something like that and we do not want them to move away from their supports and their families, we are going to be attempting to apply urban infill processes that build or buy specific places for those people.

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