Page 3354 - Week 11 - Wednesday, 18 September 2013
We’ve heard from a few sources there are students, mostly international students, who are sleeping around campuses at the universities in the 24-hour areas, like the computer labs and the libraries …
That was quoted in the Canberra Times on 4 June this year. And a survey by Anglicare found:
… 87 per cent of students living independently in Canberra are suffering housing stress, while almost one quarter have experienced some level of homelessness.
Again that was quoted in the Canberra Times, on 24 June this year.
Minister, why are 87 per cent of students living independently suffering housing stress?
MS GALLAGHER: I thank Ms Lawder for the question. Student accommodation, and ensuring that there is an appropriate supply, is incredibly important in the area of higher education. In fact, both universities, ANU and UC, are at the point now where they are offering an accommodation guarantee for students to come and study because of the working partnerships that the ACT government has developed with them—for example, all of the student accommodation in City West and the work that the University of Canberra have been doing on their different developments. They have a number on their campus and off their campus in Belconnen near the Belconnen mall that the ACT government has worked with them on.
We do not stand here and pretend that there may not be issues for students in affordability of housing. I remember being a student in this town myself, and I bet you that I qualified as someone under housing stress at that time. I would be surprised if there were many students living independently in any city who would not be doing it tough, because that is the nature of being a student.
I am not dismissing it and I am not saying that there is an easy solution to make sure that everyone lives comfortably or without housing stress when they are a student, but I would say that the programs we have been putting in place have paid off, to the point now where accommodation guarantees are being offered for students to come and study in Canberra. That is a good place to be.
I will also say that some of the measures that we have been putting in place through our own tax reform efforts are also encouraging a supply of affordable rental stock. We are already seeing that, Mr Coe. You can laugh your head off but the fact that we are seeing improvements in the vacancy rate and the availability of tenancies—
Mr Coe interjecting—
MS GALLAGHER: You only have to drive around this city and you will see, for the first time in many years, signs up saying “For lease”, for different properties. Progress is being made. It is not the answer to everything. We will continue to work with all of the non-government sector and the universities to make sure that we stay on top of the pressures around student accommodation.