Page 2664 - Week 09 - Wednesday, 7 August 2013

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the board really has made a wonderful contribution in recent years to both driving the philanthropic side of this project to get political parties on board and working with the federal government.

I would also like to acknowledge the announcement last week that the commonwealth government is contributing $4 million of capital funding to this project. Of course we have the significant support of the Snow Foundation, who have made a very generous contribution to the ongoing costs of the Common Ground model.

I should not be drawn, really, on who has been badgering federal parliament, but various members of the chamber might have their own views on what is the case there.

Common Ground is not just about the physical building of new homes, of course. It is also about the location, the sense of community inclusion and the wraparound services that are provided. Certainly, when I took the opportunity earlier this year to visit the Common Ground project in Melbourne, it was a wonderful insight into just how the project works and also some of the learnings that the Melbourne operation has had. I was down there for a housing ministers conference. I took the opportunity to go around to Common Ground, and it was very insightful in that they set off with a plan and they built the facility, and the beauty for the ACT is that we are able to draw from a few of their lessons, where they would make some tweaks in their implementation.

As Mr Gentleman’s motion states, the support of the local community is integral to the success of the project. I recently attended a meeting of the Gungahlin Community Council alongside Ms Dawson and others from the Common Ground board where a presentation was made on the Common Ground model. Certainly I have strong hopes that it will be well received and well supported by the community. This was just the first of many meetings and conversations with the local residents. I look forward to their continued positivity and willingness to engage. The residents of Gungahlin were both very interested in the model and quite positive about the opportunities it presents to help people in Canberra who do require assistance to break the cycle of homelessness.

In closing, I would like to reaffirm my support for Common Ground Canberra and indicate my absolute dedication to ensuring that it is built as quickly as we can. Housing ACT are putting considerable energy into driving this project forward. We have an ambitious deadline to have this completed by December 2014. I am hopeful that we can achieve that deadline. I think that it is the sort of urgency that we need to demonstrate in trying to tackle homelessness, because, as has been discussed today and as the Bureau of Statistics figures showed when they were released last November from the most recent census, homelessness is a very significant issue in our city, and one that is often hidden in a couple of ways. It is hidden in a perception that this is a wealthy city and it is also hidden, of course, in the way that I mentioned earlier, which is that it is not just about people who are sleeping rough on the streets. There are the many other forms that homelessness takes under the Bureau of Statistics definitions.

I would like to thank all the stakeholders and advocates who, over the years, have helped to bring this fantastic development to fruition. We are very close to achieving it now, and I truly believe that this project will bring deep and sustainable benefits for our whole community.

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