Page 2662 - Week 09 - Wednesday, 7 August 2013

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women and children, are being cut. The services which help a woman and her children escape physical abuse are having their funding cut. The services which help teenagers who, for one reason or another, require emergency accommodation and support are having their funding cut. Funding one model at the expense of others is a dangerous game to play.

Homelessness is many faceted. It affects people of all ages, backgrounds and genders, and a multi-pronged response is therefore required. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. In the ACT, the reasons cited by people experiencing homelessness include: financial difficulties and housing stress, 21.7 per cent; accommodation issues due to inadequate or inappropriate housing, 32.2 per cent; domestic violence and family breakdowns, 26.4 per cent; health reasons, including mental health, 6.5 per cent; and other issues, such as transition from care or discrimination, make up 13.2 per cent of people experiencing homelessness. The reasons are wide and varied and could affect anyone.

Homelessness can happen to anyone, and anyone who is homeless is someone’s mother or father, brother or sister, son or daughter. Forcing other homelessness services into closure or cutting their funding to the point where they need to lay off key staff will impact on our city’s vulnerable residents immediately. Staff and services have already been cut. I have heard from many homelessness services staff over the past few months expressing their concern about their funding levels and what actions this will force them to take. Robbing Peter to pay Paul is not the way to end and ultimately prevent homelessness.

Once again, I thank Mr Gentleman for raising this important issue, and we will support this motion.

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo—Minister for Territory and Municipal Services, Minister for Corrections, Minister for Housing, Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs and Minister for Ageing) (5.04): I would like to thank Mr Gentleman for bringing this motion and national Homeless Persons Week to the attention of the Assembly.

I also take this opportunity to formally welcome Ms Lawder to the Assembly, and acknowledge her background in the area of homelessness. I look forward to her contribution to the debates, and I do share her view that we must all work together to better address the structural causes of homelessness.

That said, I was somewhat surprised by the observations Ms Lawder just made around the funding cuts to the homelessness sector in the ACT. This certainly has been a difficult period. This funding announcement does come at a time of some turbulence for the wider housing and homelessness sector, and I acknowledge this.

I would like to sincerely thank the many service providers who are already working to support people experiencing, or at risk of experiencing, homelessness, and to thank them for their consideration of Common Ground as a welcome addition to the spectrum of support that exists. But what I cannot share is the analysis that suggests that we are funding one model at the expense of others. Those that work in the

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