Page 2370 - Week 08 - Wednesday, 5 August 2015

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Having been appointed housing minister earlier this year, I continue to be awestruck by the dedication of the people who work in the housing and homelessness sector. The causes of homelessness are complex. Social housing is an important part of the solution and the government is committed to continuing with housing renewal and targeted allocation of its public housing stock to ensure that it provides vital assistance to people who are most in need.

The government will continue to work with the community sector, the private sector and state and federal governments to bring forward innovative affordable housing options for low and middle income earners. I am committed to look at the regional housing situation and initiating discussions with my New South Wales counterpart and the regional mayors to see how we can take a regional approach to ensuring people have access to housing. And the government will continue to advocate to the federal government for sustainable funding and a national approach to the complex issues that cause people to experience homelessness.

I look forward to providing more information on progress in these areas to the Assembly later this year. I think there has been a technical amendment made to my distributed amendment to Ms Lawder’s motion. I commend my amendment to the Assembly.

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (5.14): In 2014, while I still held the housing portfolio, I announced an evaluation of ACT specialist homelessness services, partly in response to reduced commonwealth funding to these vital services in the ACT that started a few years earlier. I was keen to see what impacts these funding shortfalls were having on local services and what areas required a better coordinated response. There was little solace to local providers to be had at the time of the federal funding cuts, but I can attest to the genuine engagement of all levels of Housing ACT to work with the sector to find the least detrimental impacts possible.

It was due to the strength of those relationships that the sector managed to adjust as well as it has. It was also in keeping with their concerns going forward that I asked Housing ACT to start work on the evaluation of reforms to the ACT’s specialist homeless service system that Minister Berry released this week. I would like to read from the conclusion to that report before moving to the motion and the amendments. The conclusion states:

Over the reform period the SHS sector has experienced greater demand from service users with higher needs accessing the system in less stable housing situations. The SHS sector has provided more services, particularly non-accommodation supports, and has achieved better non-housing related outcomes for service users, especially in employment. However, while the ACT still has a much higher rate of exits into social housing than in other jurisdictions, exits into stable accommodation have declined over the period. Young people should remain a key focus as they are most likely to have an unmet housing need and most likely to exit into unstable accommodation.

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