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The community facility zone swindle

By Mark Parton MLA 9 May 2017 28

ACT Territory Plan

Much of the community confusion around the use of Community Facility Zoned (CFZ) land for general public housing can be traced back to the week before Christmas in 2015. On the 15th of December 2015 the ACT Government quietly pushed through a technical amendment to the Territory Plan which, according to the Chief Minister and his Deputy, now gives them the right to build general public housing on land set aside for community facilities. That includes the planned developments at Wright, Chapman, Holder and Mawson. And, it could well at some stage include 40 or 50 public housing units on the green space over the road from your place or the park where you currently walk the dog.

The Government’s interpretation of the amended Act is not correct. Let me explain why.

Up until 2005, the Territory Plan didn’t allow the construction of anything that could be described as ‘residential’ on any community land. This was land set aside for parks, sporting facilities, places of worship, health facilities and open space. That changed in 2005 when a substantial amendment to the Territory Plan allowed for aged care facilities and ‘supportive housing’ to be built on these zones.

So what is supportive housing?

The Government’s own definition and the one widely accepted in the housing space is “the use of land for residential accommodation for persons in need of support which is managed by a Territory approved organisation that provides a range of support services such as counselling, domestic assistance and personal care for residents as required.”

When there was a big kerfuffle over a proposed public housing development in Nicholls a couple of years ago, MLA Megan Fitzharris said these words in the Legislative Assembly.

“Let me assure the Nicholls community that this proposed development is for supportive housing for elderly people and for people with a disability”

Ms Fitzharris was well aware that planning laws dictated that general public housing could not be built on a Community Facility Zone.

As we were all winding down for the year in 2015, when some were already off at the coast and others were doing their Christmas shopping, the government did something that could only be described as conniving and underhanded. While we were all looking the other way, they quietly pushed through a technical amendment to the Territory Plan. The only inkling that anyone got of this occurring was a small newspaper notice hidden away in the Canberra Times. The technical amendment documents suggest that this was a ‘variation to clarify the language in the territory plan that does not change the substance of the plan’

This technical amendment was the inclusion of ‘social housing’ under some common terminology for supportive housing. That amendment makes no sense. Supportive housing is one category of the larger subset known as social housing and to include the term ‘social housing’ alongside ‘supportive housing’ is absurd.

A technical amendment by its very nature is not supposed to change the substance of the plan, but this amendment has at least in the eyes of the Chief Minister and Housing Minister.

The documents supporting the amendment state “Any form of social housing, in order to be considered ‘supportive housing’ under the Territory Plan definition must be able to comply with requirements of the (original) definition of ‘supportive housing.’ On that basis, the government has no right to interpret the amended territory plan as they have.

In question time last month, I asked the Minister to give us a detailed definition of supportive housing and whether or not the definition had changed. She assured me that the definition had not changed and that ‘supportive housing’ is ‘supported housing’ whereby a person lives in a house and his supported by someone, in this case the government.

We are dealing with a government which is happy to change the rules to suit itself and which has no real intention of consulting with the community.

Canberrans should now have their eyes wide open to the possibility that the Government could rezone land in any location at any time to build whatever it likes, be it public housing, selling the land off for high rise developments inconsistent with surroundings or anything it wants, without community consultation.

The Government might just be sneakily changing the rules right now for its next set of unfair developments.

Caption: top, screen shot from the ACT Territory Plan.

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dungfungus 9:23 am 12 May 17

HiddenDragon said :

A_Cog said :

The “supportive housing” term is deliberately used to mislead you into thinking it’s aged or disabled tenants. It’s so much more. It involves HousingACT head-leasing their properties to NGOs that then use that housing block for a service they provide to clients. So in some cases, they are NGO-run domestic violence refuges (great), in others they are NGO-run homes with co-housing with carers able to live with physically disabled clients (also great).

But in others, the term “disability” is abused. For example, recidivist parolees with drug addiction and no impulse control are classified as having a “psycho-social disability” (ie, the drug addiction, and their alleged personality disorder that makes them prone to violence). This has been the experience of Oaks Estate since December 2009, when a “rehabilitation/reintegration program for institutionalised men” began through head-leasing up to 46 flats to one particular NGO. Crime doubled immediately (ACT Police stats are my source), policing actually dropped 92%, IV drug needles flourished in all streets and parks, and then, in all of that, Rattenbury as Corrections Minister and then-Transport Minister, refused an ACTION bus to assist in transport to health/parole/employment appointments/services.

This parolee point really matters because AMC has been 25% over capacity since the day it opened, AMC has the highest rate of recidivism in the nation, the ACT Police have the lowest crime solving (and arrest) rate in the nation, the Auditor General shredded the operation of the jail, drugs and violence are rife inside, and now, under the NDIS model, NGOs have zero funding for rehabilitation programs for “psychosocial disabilities” because the funding has been personalised to each recipient. That’s leaving aside the fact that 75% of psycho-socially disabled people will not qualify for the NDIS, and that the ACT is now outsourcing detention to the criminals themselves, but not enforcing drug testing or GPS tracking.

So suburbs are now going to begin experiencing jumps in crime that were entirely avoidable, and there will be no arrests or interventions made.

In another context, “aged care” is typically run by extremely profitable charities as a revenue stream. Revenue streams grow, and economies of scale are pursued. So what starts out as an initial 16-dwelling supported residence steadily grows to a 20, 24, 30, 50 dwelling complex. In addition, the nurse ratio is kept very low, and the charity forcibly medicates vulnerable people with anti-psychotics so they remain in their beds drooling, and they can keep their staffing costs down. That’s not a generalisation, that’s industry norm by the larger players.

Given the passionate, and frequently proclaimed, commitment to human rights in the ACT, perhaps some of the extra revenue which will be raised by the just-legislated increases to annual rates for apartments, townhouses, dual-occupancies etc. could be dedicated to dealing with this disgrace – otherwise, Four Corners might follow-up the Northern Territory juvenile detention expose with an Australian Capital Territory expose.

That Four Corners NT “expose” was largely old and Fake news driven by politics.

wildturkeycanoe 7:47 am 12 May 17

A_Cog said :

So suburbs are now going to begin experiencing jumps in crime that were entirely avoidable, and there will be no arrests or interventions made.

Property damage and motor vehicle theft seems to have skyrocketed recently across Canberra, with the first quarter of this year yielding much higher numbers than at any time in the last four years. Source – ACT Policing crime statistics.
However, burglary and theft don’t seem to have increased in any particular area. I am guessing the recidivist’s, even if relocated to outer suburbs, would probably target their former haunts due to their “connections” still being located there and the familiarity of the surroundings. North Canberra and Belconnen still have the highest rates compared to the rest of the A.C.T. with Tuggeranong closely following. Unfortunately I can’t find a map or any stats to relate these figures to public housing locations so we can only make a best guess as to the link between the two.

HiddenDragon 6:05 pm 11 May 17

A_Cog said :

The “supportive housing” term is deliberately used to mislead you into thinking it’s aged or disabled tenants. It’s so much more. It involves HousingACT head-leasing their properties to NGOs that then use that housing block for a service they provide to clients. So in some cases, they are NGO-run domestic violence refuges (great), in others they are NGO-run homes with co-housing with carers able to live with physically disabled clients (also great).

But in others, the term “disability” is abused. For example, recidivist parolees with drug addiction and no impulse control are classified as having a “psycho-social disability” (ie, the drug addiction, and their alleged personality disorder that makes them prone to violence). This has been the experience of Oaks Estate since December 2009, when a “rehabilitation/reintegration program for institutionalised men” began through head-leasing up to 46 flats to one particular NGO. Crime doubled immediately (ACT Police stats are my source), policing actually dropped 92%, IV drug needles flourished in all streets and parks, and then, in all of that, Rattenbury as Corrections Minister and then-Transport Minister, refused an ACTION bus to assist in transport to health/parole/employment appointments/services.

This parolee point really matters because AMC has been 25% over capacity since the day it opened, AMC has the highest rate of recidivism in the nation, the ACT Police have the lowest crime solving (and arrest) rate in the nation, the Auditor General shredded the operation of the jail, drugs and violence are rife inside, and now, under the NDIS model, NGOs have zero funding for rehabilitation programs for “psychosocial disabilities” because the funding has been personalised to each recipient. That’s leaving aside the fact that 75% of psycho-socially disabled people will not qualify for the NDIS, and that the ACT is now outsourcing detention to the criminals themselves, but not enforcing drug testing or GPS tracking.

So suburbs are now going to begin experiencing jumps in crime that were entirely avoidable, and there will be no arrests or interventions made.

In another context, “aged care” is typically run by extremely profitable charities as a revenue stream. Revenue streams grow, and economies of scale are pursued. So what starts out as an initial 16-dwelling supported residence steadily grows to a 20, 24, 30, 50 dwelling complex. In addition, the nurse ratio is kept very low, and the charity forcibly medicates vulnerable people with anti-psychotics so they remain in their beds drooling, and they can keep their staffing costs down. That’s not a generalisation, that’s industry norm by the larger players.

Given the passionate, and frequently proclaimed, commitment to human rights in the ACT, perhaps some of the extra revenue which will be raised by the just-legislated increases to annual rates for apartments, townhouses, dual-occupancies etc. could be dedicated to dealing with this disgrace – otherwise, Four Corners might follow-up the Northern Territory juvenile detention expose with an Australian Capital Territory expose.

dungfungus 3:37 pm 11 May 17

A_Cog said :

The “supportive housing” term is deliberately used to mislead you into thinking it’s aged or disabled tenants. It’s so much more. It involves HousingACT head-leasing their properties to NGOs that then use that housing block for a service they provide to clients. So in some cases, they are NGO-run domestic violence refuges (great), in others they are NGO-run homes with co-housing with carers able to live with physically disabled clients (also great).

But in others, the term “disability” is abused. For example, recidivist parolees with drug addiction and no impulse control are classified as having a “psycho-social disability” (ie, the drug addiction, and their alleged personality disorder that makes them prone to violence). This has been the experience of Oaks Estate since December 2009, when a “rehabilitation/reintegration program for institutionalised men” began through head-leasing up to 46 flats to one particular NGO. Crime doubled immediately (ACT Police stats are my source), policing actually dropped 92%, IV drug needles flourished in all streets and parks, and then, in all of that, Rattenbury as Corrections Minister and then-Transport Minister, refused an ACTION bus to assist in transport to health/parole/employment appointments/services.

This parolee point really matters because AMC has been 25% over capacity since the day it opened, AMC has the highest rate of recidivism in the nation, the ACT Police have the lowest crime solving (and arrest) rate in the nation, the Auditor General shredded the operation of the jail, drugs and violence are rife inside, and now, under the NDIS model, NGOs have zero funding for rehabilitation programs for “psychosocial disabilities” because the funding has been personalised to each recipient. That’s leaving aside the fact that 75% of psycho-socially disabled people will not qualify for the NDIS, and that the ACT is now outsourcing detention to the criminals themselves, but not enforcing drug testing or GPS tracking.

So suburbs are now going to begin experiencing jumps in crime that were entirely avoidable, and there will be no arrests or interventions made.

In another context, “aged care” is typically run by extremely profitable charities as a revenue stream. Revenue streams grow, and economies of scale are pursued. So what starts out as an initial 16-dwelling supported residence steadily grows to a 20, 24, 30, 50 dwelling complex. In addition, the nurse ratio is kept very low, and the charity forcibly medicates vulnerable people with anti-psychotics so they remain in their beds drooling, and they can keep their staffing costs down. That’s not a generalisation, that’s industry norm by the larger players.

Disturbing. I believe it too.

dungfungus 3:35 pm 11 May 17

Rover said :

bj_ACT said :

Rover said :

Andrew Barr and government officials are being allowed to get away with the spurious and offensive claim that anyone who questions their plans is vilifying public housing tenants.

In Narrabundah, 23 per cent of dwellings are public housing. They are mainly freestanding houses or duplexes, or apartments within majority privately-owned complexes. The only reason I know which apartments in my complex are public housing is from seeing the ownership lists during a brief stint on the body corporate.

This is salt-and-peppering at its best.

However, the Government now plans to use land on Jerrabomberra Ave – located between the vets and the motel, separated by a licensed club – for two complexes of up to 30 two-bedroom townhouses exclusively for public housing.

This is not salt-and-peppering. This is rebuilding problems, in a suburb that for historical reasons already has a disproportionate amount of public housing.

When Housing ACT officials fronted an Inner South Community Council meeting a couple of months ago, they too played the “you are vilifying all public tenants” card. They completely ignored that the angriest voices in the room came from public housing tenants who pointed out that Housing ACT was not able to properly maintain its existing properties, nor protect its good tenants from the minority of bad tenants.

Andrew Barr wants to talk up his credentials as a public housing tenant as a child. I’ll be more impressed if he proposes a 30-unit public housing development near his adult home.

Where is your “In Narrabundah, 23 per cent of dwellings are public housing” sourced from? I think these kind of numbers were once claimed by Narrabundah Community Council, but it would be good to know if there are some other sources to back it up.

According to the last ABS CENSUS only 6% of residents in Narrabundah lived in Public housing which is in the same ballpark as Kambah, Charnwood, Florey & Rivett. But maybe the CENSUS data is skewed somehow?

Hi BJ, I should have been clearer – the 23 per cent figure is in relation to Old Narrabundah – the area bordered by Canberra Av, McMillan Cres, Sturt/Jerrabomberra Av and Hindmarsh Av.

We were told by the Old Narrabundah Community Council at the meeting auspiced by the Inner South Community Council earlier this year that Yvette Berry had supplied the 23 per cent figure.

The ACT Government representatives there did not dispute it, so I took it as accurate.

Just to be clear, I think the way public housing has been handled within Old Narrabundah is the example of how it should be done elsewhere. A mix of freestanding and duplex houses, and handfuls of Government-owned apartments within larger private complexes, in streets close to the shops, community centre, and public transport.

It is what has made Narrabundah the wonderful place it is today. It’s a community that I am very proud to have been a member of for more than 20 years, both as a tenant and luckily now as an owner.

The latest proposals, to build 30-unit complexes of solely public tenancies, fly in the face of the Government’s salt-and-peppering rhetoric. My concern is not that they will raise the proportion of public housing in Old Narrabundah, but that they will lead to mini Stuart Flats or Gowrie Courts, where one bad tenant can make everyone else’s life a misery, and Housing ACT is powerless to act.

While I was watching a soccer match at Narrabundah a few weekends ago I also watched a couple of dudes spray painting the back of a building at Gowrie Court. Some would say it was art because it was tagged – I say vandalism.

Have they caught the serial tyre slasher in Narrabundah?

When I lived in neighbouring Griffith 20 years ago there was regular house-breaking and car vandalism everywhere.

Glad to hear you are enjoying living there today.

bj_ACT 1:59 pm 11 May 17

Rover said :

bj_ACT said :

Rover said :

Andrew Barr and government officials are being allowed to get away with the spurious and offensive claim that anyone who questions their plans is vilifying public housing tenants.

In Narrabundah, 23 per cent of dwellings are public housing. They are mainly freestanding houses or duplexes, or apartments within majority privately-owned complexes. The only reason I know which apartments in my complex are public housing is from seeing the ownership lists during a brief stint on the body corporate.

This is salt-and-peppering at its best.

However, the Government now plans to use land on Jerrabomberra Ave – located between the vets and the motel, separated by a licensed club – for two complexes of up to 30 two-bedroom townhouses exclusively for public housing.

This is not salt-and-peppering. This is rebuilding problems, in a suburb that for historical reasons already has a disproportionate amount of public housing.

When Housing ACT officials fronted an Inner South Community Council meeting a couple of months ago, they too played the “you are vilifying all public tenants” card. They completely ignored that the angriest voices in the room came from public housing tenants who pointed out that Housing ACT was not able to properly maintain its existing properties, nor protect its good tenants from the minority of bad tenants.

Andrew Barr wants to talk up his credentials as a public housing tenant as a child. I’ll be more impressed if he proposes a 30-unit public housing development near his adult home.

Where is your “In Narrabundah, 23 per cent of dwellings are public housing” sourced from? I think these kind of numbers were once claimed by Narrabundah Community Council, but it would be good to know if there are some other sources to back it up.

According to the last ABS CENSUS only 6% of residents in Narrabundah lived in Public housing which is in the same ballpark as Kambah, Charnwood, Florey & Rivett. But maybe the CENSUS data is skewed somehow?

Hi BJ, I should have been clearer – the 23 per cent figure is in relation to Old Narrabundah – the area bordered by Canberra Av, McMillan Cres, Sturt/Jerrabomberra Av and Hindmarsh Av.

We were told by the Old Narrabundah Community Council at the meeting auspiced by the Inner South Community Council earlier this year that Yvette Berry had supplied the 23 per cent figure.

The ACT Government representatives there did not dispute it, so I took it as accurate.

Just to be clear, I think the way public housing has been handled within Old Narrabundah is the example of how it should be done elsewhere. A mix of freestanding and duplex houses, and handfuls of Government-owned apartments within larger private complexes, in streets close to the shops, community centre, and public transport.

It is what has made Narrabundah the wonderful place it is today. It’s a community that I am very proud to have been a member of for more than 20 years, both as a tenant and luckily now as an owner.

The latest proposals, to build 30-unit complexes of solely public tenancies, fly in the face of the Government’s salt-and-peppering rhetoric. My concern is not that they will raise the proportion of public housing in Old Narrabundah, but that they will lead to mini Stuart Flats or Gowrie Courts, where one bad tenant can make everyone else’s life a misery, and Housing ACT is powerless to act.

Cheers Rover for the Clarification. I agree that Narrabundah has had a more successful approach than many other areas and I hope the ACT Government continues successful integrations like this.

The issues I have seen first hand in Tuggeranong follows the shipping of Public housing tenants to suburbs without adequate infrastructure and suburbs with little community facilities and very limited nearby entertainment options. Usually a recipe for disaster.

I hope the ACT Government includes funds in the Budget to improve community facilities in the outer suburbs that they send the Public housing tenants to. If someone has been used to walking across from Bega Flats to the City Centre, Glebe Park, YMCA, Skate Parks, Library, Entertainment options and community support centres etc, they will pretty quickly get bored at Kambah Village or the Monash hill parkland.

My guess is the ACT Government didn’t include funds to cover facilities and nearby community support for Public Housing tenants moved out to the burbs, just the money to build a replacement property. Hardly a real solution to support some of our most struggling residents. You get the feeling that it is a policy to get poorer people away from inner city areas that can be sold off for a profit.

A_Cog 1:15 pm 11 May 17

The “supportive housing” term is deliberately used to mislead you into thinking it’s aged or disabled tenants. It’s so much more. It involves HousingACT head-leasing their properties to NGOs that then use that housing block for a service they provide to clients. So in some cases, they are NGO-run domestic violence refuges (great), in others they are NGO-run homes with co-housing with carers able to live with physically disabled clients (also great).

But in others, the term “disability” is abused. For example, recidivist parolees with drug addiction and no impulse control are classified as having a “psycho-social disability” (ie, the drug addiction, and their alleged personality disorder that makes them prone to violence). This has been the experience of Oaks Estate since December 2009, when a “rehabilitation/reintegration program for institutionalised men” began through head-leasing up to 46 flats to one particular NGO. Crime doubled immediately (ACT Police stats are my source), policing actually dropped 92%, IV drug needles flourished in all streets and parks, and then, in all of that, Rattenbury as Corrections Minister and then-Transport Minister, refused an ACTION bus to assist in transport to health/parole/employment appointments/services.

This parolee point really matters because AMC has been 25% over capacity since the day it opened, AMC has the highest rate of recidivism in the nation, the ACT Police have the lowest crime solving (and arrest) rate in the nation, the Auditor General shredded the operation of the jail, drugs and violence are rife inside, and now, under the NDIS model, NGOs have zero funding for rehabilitation programs for “psychosocial disabilities” because the funding has been personalised to each recipient. That’s leaving aside the fact that 75% of psycho-socially disabled people will not qualify for the NDIS, and that the ACT is now outsourcing detention to the criminals themselves, but not enforcing drug testing or GPS tracking.

So suburbs are now going to begin experiencing jumps in crime that were entirely avoidable, and there will be no arrests or interventions made.

In another context, “aged care” is typically run by extremely profitable charities as a revenue stream. Revenue streams grow, and economies of scale are pursued. So what starts out as an initial 16-dwelling supported residence steadily grows to a 20, 24, 30, 50 dwelling complex. In addition, the nurse ratio is kept very low, and the charity forcibly medicates vulnerable people with anti-psychotics so they remain in their beds drooling, and they can keep their staffing costs down. That’s not a generalisation, that’s industry norm by the larger players.

Rover 12:06 pm 11 May 17

bj_ACT said :

Rover said :

Andrew Barr and government officials are being allowed to get away with the spurious and offensive claim that anyone who questions their plans is vilifying public housing tenants.

In Narrabundah, 23 per cent of dwellings are public housing. They are mainly freestanding houses or duplexes, or apartments within majority privately-owned complexes. The only reason I know which apartments in my complex are public housing is from seeing the ownership lists during a brief stint on the body corporate.

This is salt-and-peppering at its best.

However, the Government now plans to use land on Jerrabomberra Ave – located between the vets and the motel, separated by a licensed club – for two complexes of up to 30 two-bedroom townhouses exclusively for public housing.

This is not salt-and-peppering. This is rebuilding problems, in a suburb that for historical reasons already has a disproportionate amount of public housing.

When Housing ACT officials fronted an Inner South Community Council meeting a couple of months ago, they too played the “you are vilifying all public tenants” card. They completely ignored that the angriest voices in the room came from public housing tenants who pointed out that Housing ACT was not able to properly maintain its existing properties, nor protect its good tenants from the minority of bad tenants.

Andrew Barr wants to talk up his credentials as a public housing tenant as a child. I’ll be more impressed if he proposes a 30-unit public housing development near his adult home.

Where is your “In Narrabundah, 23 per cent of dwellings are public housing” sourced from? I think these kind of numbers were once claimed by Narrabundah Community Council, but it would be good to know if there are some other sources to back it up.

According to the last ABS CENSUS only 6% of residents in Narrabundah lived in Public housing which is in the same ballpark as Kambah, Charnwood, Florey & Rivett. But maybe the CENSUS data is skewed somehow?

Hi BJ, I should have been clearer – the 23 per cent figure is in relation to Old Narrabundah – the area bordered by Canberra Av, McMillan Cres, Sturt/Jerrabomberra Av and Hindmarsh Av.

We were told by the Old Narrabundah Community Council at the meeting auspiced by the Inner South Community Council earlier this year that Yvette Berry had supplied the 23 per cent figure.

The ACT Government representatives there did not dispute it, so I took it as accurate.

Just to be clear, I think the way public housing has been handled within Old Narrabundah is the example of how it should be done elsewhere. A mix of freestanding and duplex houses, and handfuls of Government-owned apartments within larger private complexes, in streets close to the shops, community centre, and public transport.

It is what has made Narrabundah the wonderful place it is today. It’s a community that I am very proud to have been a member of for more than 20 years, both as a tenant and luckily now as an owner.

The latest proposals, to build 30-unit complexes of solely public tenancies, fly in the face of the Government’s salt-and-peppering rhetoric. My concern is not that they will raise the proportion of public housing in Old Narrabundah, but that they will lead to mini Stuart Flats or Gowrie Courts, where one bad tenant can make everyone else’s life a misery, and Housing ACT is powerless to act.

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