Page 2368 - Week 08 - Wednesday, 5 August 2015

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On Monday I released the independent report of an evaluation of reforms to the specialist homelessness service system in the ACT. From 2009 to 2014 the ACT government worked with Canberra’s homelessness sector to implement major reforms that resulted from changes to the commonwealth funding. This was a major period of change, and we committed to involving service providers in the review of these reforms. The review found that services had increased programs to prevent homelessness; services were operating with enhanced integration; people were getting better results in areas like employment and education; and the centralised intake service was helping prioritise support to those who most need it.

The evaluation gives us a better understanding of the pressures on the specialist homelessness services system, what is working well and where we will need to focus more effort or try new approaches as we move forward. Our aim is to provide anyone in need of homelessness support with the help they need when they need it and for the right amount of time. It is a big challenge, but we want to continue to work with service providers to achieve it.

The ACT government is working hard to build a socially inclusive Canberra. The Dropping off the Edge 2015 report by Jesuit Social Services and Catholic Social Services, released in July 2015, identifies the most disadvantaged communities across Australia by applying a range of different social indicators. The findings of the report support the work that the government is doing in west Belconnen through better services to address location-based disadvantage. Through the better services initiative, including the one human services gateway, the local services network being piloted at west Belconnen and the strengthening families program, the ACT government is ensuring that all Canberrans have the capability to fully participate in strong, healthy and inclusive communities and are supported by a cohesive human services system.

The government’s salt and pepper approach to distributing public housing across all suburbs in Canberra under the public housing renewal program also supports this objective and will maximise the benefits of mixed communities. The ACT continues to provide the highest number of public housing homes per capita of any Australian jurisdiction. We currently have almost 11,600 public housing properties and about 1,200 community housing properties. Collectively this represents about 30 social housing dwellings for every 1,000 people in the ACT. With the national average sitting at around 17 dwellings per 1,000 people, the ACT is achieving almost twice the national average.

Public housing is targeted to those most in need. In the last year, around 97 per cent of new tenancies have gone to the most vulnerable tenants. This is the highest level of targeted allocation across all jurisdictions. The ACT government is determined to continue providing public housing to those who have the greatest need. Public housing provides an important hand up for those members of our community who need it and assists in transitioning to other forms of housing as and when they are able.

Access to affordable housing has been a longstanding priority of this government. Since 2007 the government has introduced three separate phases of its affordable housing action plan. The plan focused on a range of interventions to increase the supply—improving housing and land supply to the market; increasing the diversity of

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