Page 4208 - Week 11 - Thursday, 17 Sept 2009

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Members will be aware that the government released an affordable housing action plan. Research informing the action plan brought forward a significant key message. Older people want to be able to age in their localities, and the use of community facilities land will enable us to deliver this wish for many. The ACT will be able to offer tenants the opportunity to move out of homes that have become too large for their practical requirements and into new two-bedroom properties in the same neighbourhood. This will enable ageing in place, offering security, independence and uninterrupted family and social connections. This is something, as I have said, that is very important to older Canberrans.

These properties will be especially designed for older people, with amenities that include lock-up garages with internal access, enclosed secure courtyards to accommodate pets, private courtyards and raised garden beds and plenty of secure storage. They will be close to transport, shops and community facilities and will have the best energy efficiency ratings available, gas heating and individual water tanks.

Such opportunities to age in place also meet a key commonwealth objective in its approval of stage 2 construction expenditure. By moving to these new two-bedroom properties, older people will be significantly assisting many disadvantaged families who remain on the public housing waiting list because of the unavailability of larger homes. Three and four-bedroom properties will be freed up, housing more families across Canberra in communities that are able to give them support more quickly.

The public meetings on these sites were held last week, and I understand there were certainly comments from residents who were surprised that this community facility land is now being used. Community facility land is not gazetted open space. It is put aside by governments for use for services that will benefit the community. We have talked in this Assembly about the importance of urban consolidation for all sorts of social and economic reasons, including close proximity to transport and shops. Of course, for our older residents this is particularly important. This was also a significant criterion set by the commonwealth for successful stage 2 projects.

Finally, I refer to community housing and the massive boost this form of housing choice will receive under stage 2 of the stimulus. The commonwealth set conditions to enable individual builders, developers and community housing providers to put forward construction proposals. I am delighted to announce that the successful community housing providers are the Salvation Army, St Margaret’s Uniting Church, Community Housing Canberra, BlueCHP, which is an organisation formed from five regional New South Wales community housing providers, and ECHO Housing. The commonwealth has required that 75 per cent of these homes are completed by December 2010.

It needs to be noted that all proposals had to be measured against the criteria that the commonwealth set and the final approval is given by the commonwealth. The commonwealth was absolutely adamant when we first started discussing these issues that they would take into account the views of states and territories regarding those proposals, but that the states and territories would not be the final decision makers with regard to proposals.

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