Page 3161 - Week 10 - Thursday, 15 August 2013

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Mr  Rattenbury to look at whether there are other models that can be implemented that can bring that average down. There are, of course, a lot of models that are being discussed for people with fairly high needs, but what models are being discussed for people who do not have high needs, that are relatively low maintenance tenants? And are there any options that can return a better portion of funds to the taxpayer or a better portion of funds to the government, such that they can then reinvest those savings in other areas of housing—perhaps in homelessness, in other Common Ground projects or many other community service programs which the ACT government support?

The government has numerous challenges in the Housing ACT space. The opposition will continue to scrutinise this area of government, as we do for all portfolios. I look forward to hearing Mr Rattenbury’s response to the issue of tenure and also as to whether there are any models which he is considering for low maintenance public housing tenants.

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) (5.12): When it comes to Housing and Community Services, the government’s guiding principle is to provide people with the opportunity to maximise their potential and live in a connected community. And nothing is more fundamental to this aim than secure housing.

I think Mr Coe’s comments about this being a tricky portfolio and the subsequent remarks he made about why that is the case were actually quite a good summary of the situation that Housing ACT finds itself in, having regard to some of the challenges that are there. It is certainly no secret that the commonwealth government has reduced funding in this area in recent years, and we are working through the ramifications of that with homelessness organisations in particular. I would like to take this opportunity to formally acknowledge their professionalism and their commitment to their clients during what is a difficult transition.

Recent years have seen Housing ACT add quality and quantity to the social housing stock and, while there are pressures, I believe we have some great examples of innovation and effective programs. We are also developing public housing that meets the needs of particular people, whether they are older tenants, tenants with a disability or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Canberrans.

One of the key items in the budget this year for long-term housing solutions is through the investment of $7.6 million to assist with the construction of a Common Ground housing model in the ACT. This is based on the housing-first philosophy and will provide long-term housing for a mixed community of residents consisting of 20 properties for people who have experienced homelessness and 20 properties for people with low incomes in affordable housing units.

In addition to this, the government was successful in securing a $4 million contribution to the development of Common Ground in the ACT from the commonwealth through the national partnership agreement development fund bid. Common Ground Canberra is going to be an important asset as we think of new ways to address homelessness.

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