Page 4696 - Week 13 - Tuesday, 31 October 2017

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support. The objective of the official visitor for homelessness services program is to detect and prevent systemic dysfunction that may affect people residing in shared occupancy homelessness services and supported accommodation facilities for people experiencing homelessness provided by an organisation that is funded by the territory.

The official visitor for the homelessness service is Dianne Lucas. In this role, Ms Lucas inspects properties utilised by the ACT specialist homelessness services. She is available to talk with residents and receive and consider complaints from people who are experiencing homelessness or are at risk of homelessness who are staying in shared occupancy and supported accommodation services. As part of the official visitor duties, Ms Lucas is required to make two scheduled visits a year to each visitable place. Additionally to the visits and meetings with residents, the official visitor fulfils her role by inspecting records, reporting on the standard of programs and properties, and providing quarterly reports to me, which are collated into the annual report I have presented today.

I am pleased to report that during 2016-17 Ms Lucas did not identify any emerging or systemic issue within the ACT specialist homelessness sector and did not report any matter of concern to an investigative body. Ms Lucas conducted 32 visits to services and properties that provide supported housing to young people, single men, single women, women and children escaping domestic and family violence, women who are pregnant or with babies, and women exiting the Alexander Maconochie Centre. At these visits, Ms Lucas spoke with 72 residents about their accommodation and any issues they may have had with the service provider. She facilitated discussions between individuals and service providers or raised concerns with service managers and Housing ACT, as required, to clarify service policies and procedures and secure early resolution of issues.

Ms Lucas has reported that, throughout the year, clients have consistently expressed their appreciation of the services provided and that the specialist homelessness sector has continued to demonstrate its commitment to good practice and meeting human rights standards in its treatment of clients. I note again that, as in previous years, there were no referrals to investigative entities and no systemic failures identified. In 2016-17 only three issues of concern were raised with Ms Lucas by service users. These related to service provision and maintenance. I am pleased to advise that both the services and Housing ACT provided diligent responses to resolve them and ensure improved outcomes for residents.

The low number of complaints indicates the quality of services provided and, as Ms Lucas states, an “overwhelmingly positive client feedback over the years” about the accommodation support received. In her report, Ms Lucas commends the dedication of staff and management in the specialist homelessness services to providing a safe and respectful environment where some of the most vulnerable members of our community are encouraged and supported to gain the necessary skills to sustain a tenancy, regain control of their lives and fulfil their potential.

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