Page 1356 - Week 05 - Wednesday, 6 May 2015

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We also support public housing tenants who have additional needs. In every case our aim is to support people to sustain their tenancies and to alleviate disadvantage in our community. With these and other complex support needs in mind, public housing tenants have access to mainstream community services and programs as well as the support of housing managers.

Housing ACT funds a range of programs that support public housing tenants. These programs support tenants to be a part of the community as well as providing early responses prior to support needs becoming critical. This recognises that the provision of safe, affordable housing alone is not sufficient for everyone. Some key examples of these support programs include the supportive tenancy service run by Woden Community Service. This assists their tenants to retain their accommodation under both private and public leases. Winnunga Nimmityjah has two programs providing supports specifically for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander public housing tenants. This includes assistance with maintenance issues in their homes and the facilitation of linkages with legal and mainstream supports to help sustain their tenancy.

The continuation of public housing throughout our city into the future is key to maintaining the strong social fabric of our community, and this motion affirms our collective support. Salt and peppering has been a critical element of achieving fairness in our community. It has ensured that individuals and families are not excluded from the opportunities of our prosperous city or from access to key services, transport and social infrastructure. Through salt and peppering we have largely avoided the negative elements of concentrations of disadvantage and social stigmatisation that obviously disadvantaged areas can have. After all, we often pride ourselves on our egalitarianism and our freedom from the hang-ups of class which have always held back other cities and countries.

I commend the motion and again thank Ms Fitzharris for bringing it to the Assembly today. I look forward to updating the Assembly on the government’s work in public housing into the future.

MS LAWDER (Brindabella) (10.24): I would like to take the opportunity to speak in response to Ms Fitzharris’s motion on public housing. I am very pleased that she has raised this topic. I share her interest in this matter, and Ms Berry’s also. One of the points in the motion is that public housing in the ACT is allocated to people with complex and urgent need for housing assistance, and that is a basic tenet of public housing.

To be eligible for the priority housing needs category, an applicant must demonstrate exceptional, urgent and critical need that cannot be resolved by any reasonable means other than the early provision of social housing. Unfortunately, in the ACT, as at 4 May this year, the average waiting time for the priority housing list was 244 days. This means that a person on the priority housing list who has complex and urgent need for housing assistance must wait for eight months on average before they are offered a public housing property. For some people it is shorter than that, but for other people it is much longer. Nevertheless, as an average, eight months is a very long time without a stable and secure place to live for a person with complex and urgent need for housing.

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