Supporting Canberrans in need

The Productivity Commission has released the first set of data as part of the 2021 Report on Government Services, demonstrating that the ACT continues to perform above the national average in many areas, including: access to public and community housing, and was the first jurisdiction to fully transition to the NDIS.

The ACT Government strives to enhance equality in our community, working with children, people with disability and those experiencing disadvantage to improve their lives.

We have had the added challenges and impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic but have continued to support those in our community who need it most.

Canberra is one of the most inclusive cities in Australia, and the ACT Government will continue to work hard to ensure everyone has a safe and suitable place to live, access to suitable employment opportunities and to important support services.

Housing

“Every Canberran, no matter their circumstances, should have access to safe and affordable housing that suits their needs,” Minister for Housing and Suburban Development Yvette Berry said.

“The ACT leads the nation in investment in social housing. Over 10 years to 2025 the ACT Government will have invested more than $1 billion in public housing. Through an expanded Growing and Renewing Public Housing Program, the ACT Government is investing $161 million to renew 1000 homes and build 260 new homes.

“While the ACT has the highest ratio of public housing per capita of any jurisdiction in Australia, we also previously had, on average, some of the oldest. The focus of the Growing and Renewing program is to make sure that public housing tenants are in homes that best suit their needs, and are modern, comfortable, and efficient.

“This means working closely with people to understand their needs and place them in the best home for them. This process takes time but achieves the best outcomes for the Canberra community.

During 2019-20 the ACT Government completed six new multi-unit developments. For each multi-unit development, there is a focus on building communities and placing people together who will support one another. Additionally, in some instances, adjustments were required to the units for disability and other needs beyond the Class C adaptable standard.

In 2019-20, of the 511 new allocations to public housing, 98.6 per cent were households in greatest need (compared with 76.5 per cent nationally) and of the 195 new allocations to community housing, 80.0 per cent were in greatest need (compared with 79.5 per cent nationally).

Goal 4 of the ACT Government’s Housing Strategy sets out how the government will increase affordable rental housing to support renters on lower incomes. The government has implemented the Affordable Rental Real Estate Management model, Land Tax Exemption for properties rented at 75 per cent of market rate, and a 25% Lease Variation Charge remission for registered community housing providers.

“Public housing is a vehicle for better lives, social inclusion, participation and stronger communities. Having the right mix of social infrastructure means that we are better equipped to provide people with housing that suits their needs, now and into the future,” Minister Berry said.

Homelessness

“A secure and suitable place to call home is so important to overall wellbeing, which is why the government is working hard to support people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness,” Minister for Homelessness and Housing Services Rebecca Vassarotti said.

“In the 2019-20 year – as we faced the challenges brought about by the bushfires, the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic impacts of both – we saw an increase in people accessing our homelessness services in the ACT and an increase in the complexity of their needs.

“In 2019-20, 4,143 people who were homeless or at risk of homelessness in the ACT received specialist support services such as case management, assistance with access to education and employment and financial counselling, up nine per cent from the previous year.

“The report shows that after support, 32.2 per cent of all clients aged 15 years and over were employed or in education (compared with 21.1 per cent nationally) and 23.4 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients were employed or in education (compared with 14.2 per cent nationally).

“Total funding to homelessness services increased four per cent to $25.7 million, which included funding for new services to respond to the impact of COVID-19.

“These services provided assistance for people sleeping rough, people experiencing domestic violence, and support to enable people to self-isolate or quarantine where their living circumstances would otherwise not allow them to do so.

“In addition to our ongoing support fund, OneLink, we have also established an Accommodation Support Fund to provide both emergency and long-term accommodation for men, women and children impacted by COVID-19. This provides support for the Winter Lodge for men, Mackillop House for women and the expansion of the Axial Housing program for rough sleepers.

“As we’ve seen this year, homelessness is an issue intertwined with so many others, including health, mental health, family life, and the economic health of entire communities, not just individuals.

“Every person experiencing or at risk of homelessness deserves our support and I’m looking forward to implementing commitments in the Parliamentary and Governing Agreement to meet these needs as they arise, and in the long-term, ensuring equitable access to suitable and affordable housing for all,” Minister Vassarotti said.

Youth justice services

“The ACT Government has continued the reforms for young people involved with the youth justice system through the Blueprint for Youth Justice in the ACT 2012-22,” Assistant Minister for Families and Community Services Emma Davidson said

During the reporting period the ACT has had the lowest proportion of young people returning to sentenced youth supervision within 12 months of release in Australia, at 39.3 per cent compared with 58.7 per cent nationally.

In 2019-20 the average daily number of young people in youth justice supervision was 65 compared with 66 in 2018-19. The average daily number of young people on community-based supervision in 2019-20 was 55, a decrease from 60 in the 2018-19 year.

The average daily number of young people in youth justice detention has increased between 2018-19 and 2019-20 (from 6 to 14).

“The disproportionate representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in all stages of the youth justice system is still evident across Australia. Throughout 2021, the ACT Government will continue to focus on achieving better outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people, including implementing a pilot of Functional Family Therapy and a Youth Justice Throughcare program for young people leaving detention,” Minister Davidson said.

Services for people with disability

“The ACT is the first jurisdiction to accept all eligible residents into the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), and there are 7,909 NDIS participants in the ACT, an increase from 6,977 in 2018-19,” Minister for Disability Emma Davidson said.

“Over the last three years, the ACT Government contributed $424.9 million to the NDIS and will contribute a further $548.6 million to the Scheme from 2020-21 to 2022-23.

“In 2019-20, there were 321 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who had an active NDIS plan.

“People with disability make such valued and important contributions to our community as a whole. The wellbeing of people with disability speaks to the wellbeing of our entire city.

“The ACT Government is continuing to support all people with disability to fully participate, with a total ongoing contribution of $41.2 million over the last three years, from 2017-18 to 2019-20.”

The report also notes the ACT has the lowest number of permanent aged care residents aged under 65 and the second lowest number of people with disability entering permanent aged care. As at 2019-20 only one individual with disability under 64 entered permanent aged care, bringing the total number of people with disability under 64 living in aged care to 18.

“We are proud of our ongoing commitment to people with disability through increased investment in both the NDIS and our ongoing support for people with disability who are not accessing the NDIS,” Minister Davidson said.

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