Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 08 Hansard (Tuesday, 4 August 2015) . . Page.. 2256 ..
variation processes on the sites have been guided by connectivity with open space, public transport distribution and environmental principles, amongst other things. This is how the Environment and Planning Directorate has been contributing directly to the public housing renewal agenda.
MS LAWDER (Brindabella) (4.31): I thank my colleague Mr Smyth for bringing on this important MPI today. I think we all acknowledge the importance of public housing and the importance of locating it close to transport and key services. When you are experiencing homelessness or when you are able to move into a public housing or social housing property, it is self-apparent that you have arrived at that point for a number of complex reasons in your life. This means that it is extra important that people are able to access the service and support they need. Apart from a few notable and good examples, it is impossible to provide services on site in a home for most people. When you have complex perhaps mental health needs, disability needs et cetera, it can be difficult to access the services that you need. A good public transport system is vital close to your home.
Certainly many people also have a car, but we know it is becoming increasingly expensive to run a car in Canberra with increased fees for drivers licences, car registration as well as parking. Mr Smyth has already spoken a little about transport disadvantage and that it is more common in outer urban areas. For the ACT, when we are thinking of new public housing properties it is important not to just grab the nearest available vacant land but to assess whether it is appropriate for the needs of the people that you are trying to assist.
I will not labour the point—we have already heard about allowing public housing properties along Northbourne Avenue to run down until this point—but what I think it is also really important for us to remember is that this is not about the number of properties, access to transport, access to services; it is about people. I will give the example of my constituent Mark, who I have written to, I think, a number of consecutive housing ministers about. He has a 12-year-old son with a rare degenerative disease and he has been on the waiting list for a public housing property in Tuggeranong for quite some time. In the meantime his son cannot live with him.
This is one example amongst many. When I say “many”, let me tell you about the number of people who are on the waiting list. As at 3 August—yesterday—there were 806 people on the transfer list. But with the waiting list, the number of applicants on the housing register was 2,166. There are 98 waiting for priority housing. The average wait time for priority housing is approximately six months. As someone who has worked previously in the homelessness sector, I am alarmed by these statistics because the chances are these people will either experience homelessness or they are teetering on the brink of homelessness with all the stresses and strains that that brings with it.
There is a waiting list and a transfer list. We already have two lists. What we heard about during the estimates process—I will read an excerpt from the transcript—is that we have two lists, the waiting list and the transfer list. I continued a bit of questioning on this. In fact there is another list, and that is the people who are management-initiated transfer or an out-of-turn transfer, such as those people in the public housing properties along Northbourne Avenue. So, in addition to the 2,166 people who have