Page 519 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 18 February 2015

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I also know from my time as minister that Housing ACT is committed to innovation and working in new ways with the estimated 30,000 tenants across Canberra. There are the examples of the affordable housing unit working more closely with aged tenants and providing particular types of accommodation for them, as well as a more streamlined approach to supporting tenants across the spectrum of those requiring little to those requiring more support, and starting to tailor service provision to more accurately match the needs of the tenants.

We also need to work with the private sector in delivering more, and more diverse, affordable housing options. These are all areas that I know Housing ACT is actively working on, with the full support of the government.

I would also like to acknowledge that the pressures facing housing and homelessness services are increasing. This is a real issue that requires a whole-of-government approach, and I see much that is leading towards improving that situation. We will soon see new units built across Canberra that will be reflective of the changing demographic of tenants and those seeking accommodation. We will see new properties built using more environmentally sustainable practices and designed to provide a much more comfortable and less energy-intensive home for tenants.

As all members would be aware, this has been a longstanding issue that I and the Greens have pursued, as many of the current rental properties, private and public, are woefully inadequate in regard to energy efficiency. I am pleased with the progress that is being made in that space. We all know that many properties in Canberra are freezers in the winter and saunas in the summer, and vulnerable Canberrans should not be forced into using inefficient and unnecessarily costly methods of staying comfortable.

We will see a new energy devoted to ensuring our successful “salt and pepper” is maintained by building properties in new and currently under-represented areas whilst still maintaining a tenant-focused approach by working with those who want or need to remain in the inner north and city regions. As I touched on before, that individualised approach is an important part of the story. I think that is a vital thing to do to keep our city as a place of equity and social inclusion. Certainly it is a matter I will continue to support in cabinet discussions on these topics.

We are also seeing some impressive efforts to improve programs supporting vulnerable Canberrans undertaken by the Community Services Directorate, with the human services blueprint, now known as the better services network. I touched on that in some of the other things I talked about. There are significant efforts going on by the directorate, with the support of the government, to help people who are experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness to improve their situation in life. It is a challenge because people are constantly coming onto that list and it is hard work to keep up with it. But I think the amendment put forward by Ms Berry today, in which she undertakes to provide by the last sitting day in March a range of information that has been sought by Ms Lawder, will provide us all with a sound basis to have that discussion going forward.

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