Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 06 Hansard (Friday, 27 June 2008) . . Page.. 2316 ..
unfortunate situation in Ainslie that has received a lot of publicity. Mrs Burke said that better monitoring of public housing may have uncovered the problem earlier. I think we have to be really careful in situations like this, where we have no idea of the circumstances involved, to immediately shoot to look for a way the situation can be capitalised on for political purposes; I am afraid that is what I see happening here. My heart sank when I saw that the media had found a situation in the ACT; I know it probably did not happen like that, but with the high profile of the Adelaide situation last weekend I can imagine that all media outlets were on alert for a local comparable situation. As for politicians that jump on the bandwagon—in my opinion, it is deplorable.
I am concerned that Housing ACT as an organisation finds itself acting as a landlord, as it is required to do, dropping the ball in terms of support. If we are going to target people with high needs, we have to give them the support that they need. I know that that is the aim of ACT Housing. I do not know what is wrong; there are probably not enough resources—that issue about working across government departments and seamless delivery of services. For instance—and this is an example that has occurred—when a tenancy moves on from the mother, who for some reason moves out, to her son, a young man of 16 who is left alone, you would think it would be incumbent on Housing ACT either to ensure that there is a community agency in touch with the young man or to retain a close connection itself.
I am aware of at least one sad occasion where that certainly appears not to have been the case. A woman with boyfriend and substance problems perhaps, and young children, may well be understandably having troubles with her neighbours and her tenancy. It is the case that, while we are targeting housing to people with more than one need, with complex needs, we will see more of these situations. We have to remember that the commissioner for housing is also the territory parent, with eventual responsibility for these children, for children in public housing and for children who are not in public housing, who come under the care and protection of the territory.
I would like to think that we are looking at these issues holistically. I believe there are too many occasions where that does not happen; in fact, I know there are too many occasions where that does not happen. So, on the one hand, Housing ACT is becoming a housing provider for high-needs tenants but, on the other, the care and service links are not yet strong enough to provide an appropriate level of support. I am aware that there are many programs in place or under development to try to connect the pieces, but a lot more work needs to happen before we can be sure that they are successful.
MR MULCAHY (Molonglo) (9.45): The ACT has a high level of public housing and this is reflected in the budget papers. According to figures in the current budget, Housing ACT currently manage 11,647 public housing properties and 242 community housing properties. To put this figure into some perspective, the 2006 census found that there were 122,901 occupied private dwellings and 8,474 unoccupied private dwellings in the ACT at the time of the census. This is a very high level of public housing, particularly for a city as affluent relative to other jurisdictions as the ACT. A great deal of the capital assets of the territory is tied up in public housing. In fact, Housing ACT has around $3.5 billion in properties, plant and equipment.