Page 810 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 18 March 2015
Unfortunately, this resulting isolation can also create some concerns for community safety. Mr Gentleman has just made some remarks on this, but I think it is also fair to say that Oaks Estate is a place of hope and inspiration. Members may not be aware that the St Vincent de Paul Society has been quietly creating some incredible results, working with a justice reinvestment framework to promote social inclusion, community safety and positive rehabilitation for some of the estate’s more vulnerable residents.
In the last Assembly, as a Greens MLA, I had an opportunity to visit a simple but powerful illustration of this. I saw firsthand how something as basic as a neighbourhood barbecue and some essential garden maintenance can go a long way to breaking down barriers and supporting a sense of place. I understand that since the St Vincent’s program has been running in the area residents, and especially ACT Housing tenants, have felt better supported.
There is certainly, of course, still work to be done, but I am pleased that there is progress. Certainly, as the former Minister for Housing, I was aware of the high percentage of public housing on the estate. But I was also aware of how, when the community is supported with the right approach, these distinctions of private and public tenants can be overcome. Staff from my office also spent some time out at the estate talking with both public housing tenants and home owners and advised me that while there are, indeed, some real concerns and tensions, with antisocial behaviour and property damage, these can be worked through if taken on board in a collaborative way.
I think that as a government we can support these sometimes difficult conversations taking place. There is a role to facilitate the village’s needs. It is an ageing area and I am hopeful that the master plan process will go some way to identify improvements to the look and the feel of the area—perhaps the vibe of the place, if you were to coin that phrase. This may include issues of perceptions of community safety such as improved passive surveillance, lighting and other practical measures.
I have spent time walking along the riverbank out there. The work done by TAMS on cleaning up the riverbank and removing a large number of the weeds, particularly the willows and the blackberries, made a significant difference to the riverbank area. With the replantings that are going on, I think there has been a significant improvement for an area that had long been neglected. I was very pleased to see that work taking place and the engagement that the community had with that work that TAMS was doing.
What I do know from my visits and my conversations with residents is that Oaks Estate has a real sense of community and that many of its residents are proud of the place and what it might be fair to say are its sometimes quirky characteristics but also very interesting history.
I turn to the specific points raised in today’s motion. Firstly on transport issues, I understand that there is quite some frustration in the Oaks Estate community because it is often handy for Queanbeyan residents to cut through it on their way to Canberra,