House debates

Monday, 29 July 2019

Private Members' Business

Tasmania: Housing Affordability

12:43 pm

Photo of Ross VastaRoss Vasta (Bonner, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

I rise today to speak about homelessness in our country and the commitment of the assistant minister, the Hon. Luke Howarth, and the federal government to address this problem. It is important to acknowledge any person sleeping rough, living in crowded housing or experiencing housing stress. It's a concerning issue. The federal government understands that housing is integral to the welfare of every person, and that's why we're contributing more than $6 billion a year to support the states and territories. The $6 billion investment includes approximately $4.6 billion annually through the Commonwealth Rent Assistance Program, more than $1.5 billion per year through the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement and $620 million over five years from 1 July 2018 in dedicated homelessness funding.

It is important to remember while the federal government is doing everything possible to address homelessness, this is a responsibility of the state and territory governments. It's in the Constitution that this is a state responsibility, so the states do need to do their share as well. That said, I think it's important for the member for Franklin to acknowledge that the state government in Tasmania has been taking steps in the right direction to tackle this problem. I wonder if the member knows about the work that has been done in her own state? It's disappointing that she seems intent on playing political games as opposed to acknowledging some of the good work being done in this space and working alongside the state government.

While this is a complex issue that affects people's everyday lives, it is vital to recognise that there are organisations and governments doing good things in this space. The Liberal Hodgman government in Tasmania is one of them. I would like members to know that this state government's first affordable action plan to tackle homelessness is already meeting and exceeding its targets. Under its first affordable action plan, the Tasmanian government has already assisted a total of 1,605 additional households into safe, secure accommodation and delivered a total of 984 affordable lots and homes to significantly boost the state's supply of housing.

Sadly, in my own state of Queensland it's not the same story. The Queensland state government has the second lowest number of public housing dwellings in the country, currently sitting at 10.3 per thousand people. The Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute predicts that 380,000 dwellings are required in Queensland by 2027 in order to keep up with the growing demand. As the federal member for Bonner, it is important that I'm speaking up for those who have no voice in this community. I want to see more people in my electorate who are not going to be experiencing this housing stress or having to live rough. I have built strong relationships with my local not-for-profit organisations and local community groups that are committed to working in this space. These include Rosies—Friends on the Street and the Mt Gravatt Community Centre. I am proud to not only recognise them but to work alongside them to make sure that my community is getting the support that it needs.

I'm honoured to have the assistant coming to my electorate of Bonner during National Homelessness Week to meet with these people and local organisations and to highlight the great work they are doing in the Bonner community. In the last few months, I have been collecting blankets for the inaugural Bonner blanket drive. I made the very first donation of three wool blankets, and my office has been overwhelmed by the generosity of our local community and the sheer number of people taking the time and effort to support the cause and donate blankets to help those who are doing it tough in the electorate. During National Homelessness Week the minister and I will be visiting Rosies to officially donate the blankets that have been collected in the past few months. I know it's just a drop in the ocean, but, as we all know, every little bit helps.

The other amazing organisation in my local community that deserves a mention is the Mt Gravatt Community Centre. I have been working with Deb and the team at the Mt Gravatt Community Centre for a number of years. They work within the community to support vulnerable groups of people, and they deserve more than just a mention in parliament. Earlier this year, I secured $213,631 for the community centre to fund its Ways to Wellness program to combat social isolation. In order to deliver this program, the centre needs experienced and specially trained link workers. This funding means the centre can now employ an additional link worker and administration worker to expand the program to support more people in the Mt Gravatt and wider Bonner community.

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