Speaking at an ECCQ public meeting last night, Queensland Shelter Executive Officer, Adrian Pisarski, welcomed the transfer of public housing to the community sector but cautioned that defunding of tenant advisory services and the implementation of the Newman Government’s anti-social behaviour policy, which becomes effective next month, may mean increased evictions, and thus homelessness, especially in disadvantaged communities.
ECCQ’s Senior Policy Officer, Fiona Caniglia, called on the government to implement a culturally responsive approach which includes matching larger households to larger dwellings and integrating employment opportunities with the expansion of community housing service providers and the housing stock.
“The pilot location for the transfer of housing stock is Logan, one of the most culturally diverse locations in Queensland and a place where there is a high concentration of public housing,” she said.
“The objective must be sustained housing and providers will need to be culturally competent to address the needs of these communities.”
She said that recent Australian Bureau of Statistics data on homelessness in Australia show a significant increase in CALD representation among homeless people with 75% of the increase in homelessness accounted for by people born overseas.
“Unemployment and low English language proficiency are negatively correlated and low income impacts access to housing and other opportunities to participate fully in society, such as education and social activities,” said Ms Caniglia.
“This is an opportunity to bring about broader changes in the arrangements between public and private housing, such as improvements in infrastructure that create a sense of belonging, further collaboration with stakeholders as well as situations where CALD community members are trained and employed to deliver housing services.”
She said ECCQ was working to identify and support an implementation process that is culturally responsive to ensure communities have access to affordable housing close to employment and services.
Mr Pisarski said state and federal governments had, until recently, significantly underfunded, and reduced, public housing “which makes meeting the needs of low-income families, recently arrived migrants and some CALD communities a huge challenge.”
“In 2007 the Federal Government invested heavily in social and affordable housing by marrying the need for housing with the need for an effective economic stimulus package and this resulted in several thousand new dwellings in Queensland,” he said.
“We need to get back to public housing as infrastructure issue rather than a welfare issue.”
View ECCQ's discussion paper, ‘From Strength to Strength: Cultural responsiveness and social housing reforms’.
For more information about ECCQ visit www.eccq.com.au.
Senior Policy Officer
Phone: 0400 1964 92
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Phone: 07 3844 9166