20 November 2014
(Question Without Notice, 19 November 2014, Legislative Assembly, NSW Parliament)
My question is directed to the Minister for Family and Community Services. Given the growing waiting lists and an increase in inner-city homelessness, will the Government commit to retaining inner city social housing, including through working with community housing providers?
I thank the member for Sydney, who I know is a strong advocate for his local community not only for those in social housing but also for those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. The electorate of the member for Sydney is particularly challenged with the drift of homeless people into Sydney. We recognise that challenge in the electorate he serves. For too long those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness have had to leave their communities and come to Sydney to get the support they wanted. They were forced to travel away from their families and friends. We did not provide the services they needed where and when they needed them. That is why Going Home Staying Home is a good, new evidence-based approach to helping people who are homeless and those who are at risk of homelessness. We know that if we help people who are at risk of homelessness we can help them become more independent sooner. We are shifting the focus of our delivery of specialist homelessness services to early intervention which is important because, as I said, we must provide those services when and where they are needed. It is important also because it helps us to attack that drift of people to the city, who otherwise—
Yes, I am going to talk about social housing. The New South Wales social housing system has to change. Labor bankrupted social housing for the New South Wales community. This side of the House inherited an unsustainable and unfair system. We have been working to rebuild that system. We have been working to clean up the mess. It was a mess. What did we inherit?
Government members: A mess.
Growing waiting lists, a backlog of maintenance and too many people not getting the assistance they needed. As of yesterday we announced a discussion paper into social housing.
Opposition members should not laugh because they are devoid of ideas, policies and plans. That is a bit rough coming from the other side. Those opposite did not reform the system. They had 16 years. This discussion paper says that social housing in New South Wales should be fair to those who are on our waiting list and who, because of Labor's neglect, do not have housing or assistance. This system should be more sustainable. Most importantly, I make this point because it is something that Labor does not understand: This system needs to provide opportunities for those within social housing where it is appropriate for them to get training, education or a job. Social housing should not be a destination for everyone. We are going to work with our partners in the non-government sector. I thank the member for Sydney for his question. Whether one lives in Inverell or the City of Sydney, this Government, this side of the House, will help those vulnerable people.