Page 815 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 18 March 2015

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The community development aspects of this program have also been particularly successful, feeding into the close-knit and engaged nature of the community which I have talked about. The government cannot create a strong community; we can facilitate that through policy and legislation, but it is when a community comes together and starts working on building a community amongst neighbours that a community becomes vibrant. That is what Mr Rattenbury was referring to in his speech and his experience in working with the Oaks Estate community previously.

In December 2014 Housing and Community Services and St Vincent de Paul jointly conducted qualitative research on the community regeneration outcomes achieved through the place-based supports. The key findings of the research indicate that participants have experienced increased feelings of personal and community safety, improvements in the physical environment of Oaks Estate and better links to community support and other services through the on-site presence of St Vincent de Paul services. This has increased participants’ feelings of resilience, and most acknowledged a key benefit of on-site workers from St Vincent de Paul was their early intervention to resolve community conflict. The valuable work of ACT Housing and St Vincent de Paul in Oaks Estate is important to recognise as we talk about the future of this very important community. The holistic nature of the master plan process, as Mr Gentleman’s amendment makes quite clear, provides an ideal platform to build on the unique physical and community characteristics of Oaks Estate.

I have not been to Oaks Estate; I received an invitation to meet with representatives from the community yesterday, and we are working out a time to meet with that community. I am very happy to meet with the community and visit Oaks Estate. I have been in this position as minister for less than a couple of months, and there has been lots of work to be done in the public housing realm. But, as I said, I am very happy to meet with any members of our community. I have had an invitation to meet with this community, and I will meet with the Oaks Estate community and listen to their concerns. The ACT government will act, as they have done, on building a strong community in Oaks Estate.

MS LAWDER (Brindabella) (12.14): I will speak very briefly to the amendment and to Mr Doszpot’s motion about Oaks Estate. Mr Gentleman’s amendment removes any reference to housing, including public housing, that was in the original motion. There are those in Oaks Estate who feel that the public housing has been neglected and not maintained to a sufficient level. Of the 78 public housing properties in Oaks Estate, they all appear to have been constructed before 1974. They are ageing and they require maintenance. I also understand they probably have high energy efficiency costs. It would be good if the ACT government could bring them up to a modern standard.

It is open to the ACT government to implement a salt-and-pepper approach to public housing, and that is a valuable way of looking at public housing. However, some residents of Oaks Estate feel it has become a pocket of social disadvantage, a concentrated area of disadvantage, and that perhaps the salt and peppering has been a bit too concentrated in that area. The salt-and-pepper approach certainly helps to create a community with good role models for all residents. I think it is a good approach, but we do not want to overpopulate any particular area with disadvantage.

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