Page 44 - Week 01 - Tuesday, 15 February 2011

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MR HANSON: Supplementary, Mr Speaker?

MR SPEAKER: Yes, Mr Hanson.

MR HANSON: Minister, why didn’t you investigate this issue last year when it was first raised by the ACT president of the VMOs and by patients?

MS GALLAGHER: I did, Mr Speaker.

Mr Hanson: You said there was no problem.

MS GALLAGHER: I did not.

Housing—emergency accommodation

MS BRESNAN: My question is to the minister for housing and is in relation to homelessness. Minister, are you aware that over the last few days there have not been any emergency accommodation beds available in Canberra for people who are homeless and are looking for somewhere to sleep? If you are aware of this, what steps are you taking to provide immediate relief?

MS BURCH: I thank Ms Bresnan for her question. Homelessness is a challenge not only for Canberra, it is a challenge across the country, which is why we are increasing our housing stocks. Certainly we have brought a number of programs on line. A place to call home is one of them, a centralised social housing list, but also there is first point, which is a first point of contact for those that are at risk of or are experiencing homelessness. That service responds by the seeking or sourcing of accommodation beds or, indeed if they are not available, some support services to alleviate the distress and the circumstances that individual is in or, as is often the case, families are in. We arrange a number of homelessness services. We invest quite heavily across youth services and general homelessness services.

The domestic violence response service also responded to women who were escaping domestic violence over Christmas. We have a program in place that supports women who may need to seek alternative accommodation through domestic violence or abuse. We also have transitional housing for asylum seekers.

There are, certainly, turn-away rates for those that are seeking accommodation. In the ACT, I think we manage to find beds for, I think it is, the mid 90s of the 100 that would be homeless. I think that is our most recent data. But it is a challenge, which is why we continue to invest not only in services but the support services to prevent homelessness as well.

MR SPEAKER: Supplementary, Ms Bresnan?

MS BRESNAN: Yes, thank you, Mr Speaker. Minister, is it normally the case that there is a higher level of demand for emergency accommodation earlier in the year because of the influx of students and new workers? If so, how does the government plan for this seasonal adjustment in demand from people who are homeless?

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