Page 4479 - Week 12 - Tuesday, 30 October 2018

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I ask for leave to make a statement in relation to the paper.

Leave granted.

MS BERRY: I am pleased to table today the 2017-18 annual report for the official visitor, homelessness services. Official visitors play a vital role in safeguarding and promoting the interests of vulnerable people in our community who find themselves in difficult circumstances. The official visitor scheme serves as a monitoring and complaints system for entitled persons in visitable places who are dependent on the service provider or on accommodation managers for care and support.

The objective of the official visitor, homelessness services, is to detect and prevent systemic dysfunction that may affect people residing in multi-occupancy supported accommodation homelessness services provided by organisations funded by the territory. Ms Dianne Lucas is currently serving her second three-year term as the official visitor for homelessness services. In this capacity, Ms Lucas visits properties operated by the ACT specialist homelessness services. She is available to talk with people about their experiences of the services and to receive and consider complaints from people experiencing homelessness or people at risk of homelessness who are residing in shared occupancy accommodation services.

As part of the official visitor duties, Ms Lucas makes two scheduled visits a year to each visitable place. In addition to these visits, the official visitor fulfils her role by monitoring and resolving service issues locally, inspecting records, reporting on the standards of programs and properties and providing quarterly reports to me, which are collated into the annual report I present today.

During the year Ms Lucas conducted 33 visits to visitable places providing supported housing to young people, single men, single women, women and children escaping domestic violence, women who are pregnant or with babies and women exiting the Alexander Maconochie Centre. At these visits Ms Lucas talked with 94 clients about their accommodation and any issues they may have had with the service provider.

She facilitated discussions between clients and service providers or raised concerns with service managers and Housing ACT, as required, to clarify service policies and procedures and to secure the early resolution of issues. Ms Lucas has reported that consistently throughout the year clients spoke highly of the support they were receiving and the responsiveness of staff to the diverse needs of people staying in the services. As in previous years, there were no referrals to investigative entities and no systemic failures identified.

I note that in 2017-18 only one issue of concern was raised relating to the accommodation needs of a client with a disability. On this occasion, Ms Lucas facilitated a quick resolution that ensured the client’s needs were attended to efficiently and with sensitivity. The low number of complaints is a testament to the quality of services provided by the ACT specialist homelessness sector and their commitment to good practice and meeting human rights standards when addressing the effects of homelessness.

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