Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) — I would like to just speak very briefly on the Housing Amendment (Victorian Housing Register and Other Matters) Bill 2016. I cannot help thinking that a bill that facilitates the creation of a Victorian Housing Register to enable greater social housing opportunities and to allow Victorians in housing need, instead of applying to over 40 separate housing waiting lists, to simply apply to one register is something we should have done before. Why has it taken us so long for such a commonsense response?
I recently had the good fortune of meeting with the managers and staff of Women’s Property Initiatives, Crossroads at the Salvation Army, Launch Housing and Frontyard Youth Services and also members of the Melbourne City Mission in relation to homelessness services in Victoria.
They all talked about the problems they have with communicating with each other and said that very often in the situation of a homeless person they were finding that they needed to perform triage and that they had three managers working on one client. It was definitely the lack of communication that was causing not a misuse of funds but a situation where funds could have been used a lot better had there been a lot more organisation amongst the organisations. Certainly this bill does go towards addressing that.
Of course this bill will not create more housing. We do not need the Australian Bureau of Statistics data to tell us that there has been an extraordinary spike in the lack of housing and in people experiencing homelessness in Victoria. That is abundantly clear just metres away from this building. Those in the sector that I have spoken to in the lead-up to the introduction of this bill have certainly highlighted this issue. There are 1800 people in transitional housing and over 4000 people trying to access it. As we have heard from previous speakers, housing services are turning people away up until they are in absolute crisis, and we know that it is not just at that crisis level that there is a lack of affordable housing.
What shocked me incredibly was the figure that there are 29 one-bedroom properties in greater Victoria that are affordable — 29! It is particularly shocking when you look at the apartments being built. According to Launch Housing and the Melbourne City Mission there are 29 one-bedroom apartments that are available in greater Melbourne. It certainly means that single people and older people are becoming some of the hardest people to find housing for. We know that over 50 000 more units of affordable housing are needed to bring Victoria up not to solving the problem but just to the Australian average.
Frontline safety net services like Frontyard are having to absorb young people who are exiting prisons, hospitals and out-of-home care. These first-contact systems are having to provide far more complicated services, far more complicated treatments and far more complicated management. Really they should just be that first port of call for people before they are referred on to other services, but they are having to provide all of those services in a far more tertiary manner than services like Frontyard were ever designed to do.
The affordable private sector accommodation, we all know, is dwindling. Caravan parks are almost gone and affordable motels are obviously about to disappear. The rooming house legislation that we passed in this house further dwindled some of that affordable accommodation — and I am not saying that that was good affordable accommodation, but it is slowly reducing the number of beds that are available.
This bill certainly will go to some length in consolidating the meagre resources that are currently available, but I think this bill also highlights how meagre the resources are and how much more we need to do about affordable housing and, in particular, about homelessness.
On that note, I think this is a fair way for eligible people across the state to access social housing. They now only have to tell their story once. The combining of public and community housing, I think, also addresses some of the stigma that Ms Lovell mentioned in her contribution. While this is just the beginning of addressing a very large issue that we all have to address, I commend this bill to the house.