Canberra’s homelessness problem increases
There was a 65 per cent increase in the number of Canberrans contacting homelessness services between 2009 and 2014.
More than 1,000 young Canberrans, aged 15 to 24, contact these services each year.
These are two statistics that, combined with the cold winter, should make you stop and think.
The ACT Government’s major reforms into the homelessness sector have been evaluated after five years, and things aren’t great at all. According to Minister for Housing Yvette Berry, the reforms focused on access to services and housing, increasing outreach and developing more intensive support for hard to help groups.
Those statistics do suggest people are accessing services, which is what the government wants. But as a pure number, it’s pretty heartbreaking, especially when Berry’s media release includes that young people “now represent only 31% of those assisted”. Only.
The Opposition’s housing spokesperson (and former Homelessness Australia CEO), Nicole Lawder, said the government must offer more assistance to those in danger of losing their homes, as well as target the growing waiting lists.
With house prices not coming down any time soon and jobs pretty hard to come by, the government must offer more temporary accommodation and rent assistance to those desperately in need.
Whatever Bronwyn can do, Vicki can match
There’s something about the position of Speaker in Canberra. Slipper and Bishop have dragged the House of Reps position through the mud, while Vicki Dunne could be doing something similar in the ACT Legislative Assembly.
Dunne took her husband to a conference in Malaysia and billed the taxpayers. This was in direct defiance of advice from Assembly Clerk Tom Duncan, who banned such a move.
But Dunne is no stranger to ignoring the rules. In April last year, Dunne again ignored Tom Duncan by taking a staff member on a trip to Europe with fellow Liberal Giulia Jones. Duncan had said such a move was unjustified. Dunne did it anyway.
And while Dunne has been cleared to travel to Taiwan later this month with fellow Liberal Andrew Wall and Labor’s Chris Bourke, the lack of remorse or apology is strikingly similar to her Liberal colleague Bronwyn up on the Hill. It should end in the same response with her job, too.
Bipartisanship continues on domestic violence
One of the (very few) bipartisan topics in ACT politics is on domestic and family violence. All parties have been working extremely hard to raise awareness, increase prevention education and expand support services. The ACT’s response to this has been commendable.
On top of this, Opposition leader Jeremy Hanson has suggested a specially appointed, full-time magistrate in a dedicated family violence court. The magistrate would only deal with domestic violence cases. Hanson suggests this tactic would help cut legal backlogs and increase expertise in the area.
And it does have merit. The initial response to Hanson’s proposal has been welcoming. Attorney-General Simon Corbell said he will consider having a dedicated magistrate but not a family violence court. Corbell will also consider including civil protection orders into the job description of the dedicated magistrate.
It’s genuinely good to see a consensus on such an important issue.
Labor MLAs go for the infographics
When you have a message to sell, using as few words as possible certainly helps in politics. A certain prime minister knows that lesson well.
So when the ACT Government announced its second wind power auction on Monday, its ministers rolled out a series of colourful, snappy infographics to sell the message.
The next day, as the government passed its 2015-16 Budget, Labor MLAs posted more infographics, designed to convey the more dreary topics in engaging fashion.
And they worked. Social media was full of them. They got shared around well, which is the whole aim. It’s a good way of breaking complex policy messages into digestible grabs. But like most fads, an over-reliance on them will soon see them looking pretty lame.
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