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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 03 Hansard (Tuesday, 21 March 2017) . . Page.. 792 ..

MS BERRY: Thank you for the question. As I said, we must keep our eye on the ball. Not only are we a great employer here in the ACT public service but we lead by example to the broader industry. We know that one way we can make a real difference—and we do—is by assisting women to get back into the workforce.

Return to work grants are offered to Canberra women, providing grants of up to $1,000 to assist applicants with costs relating to education and training fees, computer and IT expenses, transport costs in getting to study or any other work-related expenses such as clothing, uniforms and equipment. In the 2016-17 year 160 grants of $1,000 are available for distribution. Since the establishment of the program we have helped 1,154 women with grants to help them up-skill or to prepare to return to work. Of course this is just one example of how we support women in their working lives.

I would also like to say that the ACT government offers family friendly working arrangements to support a work-life balance, offering access to paid parental leave for primary and secondary care givers, up to 20 days domestic and family violence leave, and we are now considering further ways to eliminate unconscious bias across the ACT public service.

Public housing—relocations

MR MILLIGAN: Madam Speaker, my question is to the Minister for Housing and Suburban Development. Minister, on 15 March, you announced a program for up to 141 new dwellings to replace outdated concentrations of public housing tenants from the Northbourne Avenue precinct. Minister, why are you replacing one form of outdated concentration of public housing with another?

MS BERRY: Thank you for the question. We are not. We are talking about very high concentrations of very unsustainable housing that no longer meets the needs of our tenants. The new housing that we are redeveloping, up to 30 units, is much less than the high density housing that we are replacing. Thirty is about the right amount for people to be able to develop a community and be able to support each other within their housing development. Also, with the support of the broader community in that area, they can have a chance at having a decent crack at a decent life if they are provided with some really good housing that meets their needs.

MR MILLIGAN: What has been the reaction of, and feedback from, the community?

MS BERRY: It has not been all good. Some people have raised some concerns, particularly around the bushfire abatement for Chapman—that is the only one I can recall so far—not directly to my office but just out in the community. When I looked through the comments in the Canberra Times I would say that it was weighted more to people wanting to support those who need a hand up by providing public housing that meets their needs rather than excluding them from being valued members of our community.

MR PARTON: In regard to these new sites, can I ask: what is the relevance of consultation? Is there any point in residents voicing their disapproval?

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