Armidale Public Housing QWN

Question

16th June 2011

ARMIDALE PUBLIC HOUSING
The Hon. JAN BARHAM: My question is directed to the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for Family and Community Services. Will the Minister confirm whether Housing NSW has more than 100 empty houses in Armidale? If so, what is planned for those houses? Will the Minister also confirm whether Housing NSW has built more than 100 new one- and two-bedroom units in Armidale?

The Hon. GREG PEARCE: In the interests of everyone, I will take that question on notice.

Answer

2nd August 2011

ARMIDALE PUBLIC HOUSING

 

On 16 June 2011 the Hon. Jan Barham asked the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for Family and Community Services, a question without notice regarding Armidale public housing. The Minister for Finance and Services provided the following response:

There are currently 27 vacant public housing properties in Armidale. Of these, 10 are currently undergoing maintenance for re-letting to applicants on the Housing Register. Seventeen are currently undergoing refurbishment and will be leased to Homes North Community Housing who will let these properties as affordable housing to households on low to moderate incomes.

Housing NSW advises that it has delivered around 130 new social housing homes in Armidale under the Nation Building Economic Stimulus Plan. It is my understanding that the new stock comprises mostly one and two bedroom units, with a number of these being adaptable to suit the needs of people with disabilities or mobility problems.

Boarding House Accomodation QoN

Question:

21st June 2011

BOARDING HOUSE ACCOMMODATION
The Hon. JAN BARHAM: My question is directed to the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for Ageing and Disability Services. Will the Minister clarify the position of the Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care in respect of its duty of care to residents of licensed boarding houses given its role as licensor and regulator? How many departmental employees monitor licensed boarding houses and how many visits do they or official community visitors make to each boarding house each week? Is the Minister satisfied with the current level and quality of monitoring exercised by the department in respect of licensed boarding houses regulated under the Youth and Community Services Act?

The Hon. GREG PEARCE: I thank the member for her very detailed question. We have several procedures for dealing with questions in the House. A question asking for that level of detail should be placed on notice, so I will take it on notice.

The Hon. Lynda Voltz: Point of order: The Minister is obviously debating the question, which he is not entitled to do. I invite you to direct him accordingly.

The PRESIDENT: Order! Has the Minister concluded his answer?

The Hon. GREG PEARCE: No, I was going to make a couple of supplementary comments.

The PRESIDENT: Order! The Minister will answer the member’s question, not debate it.

The Hon. GREG PEARCE: I have taken the detail of the question on notice, but I was hoping for a question from the Hon. Cate Faehrmann because last week we were all a bit mystified when she did not get back from Tasmania. It was only later in the week that we heard that the Tasmanian Government had introduced its budget. Included in that budget was its wages policy.

The Hon. Luke Foley: Point of order: My point of order relates to relevance. The Minister is abusing the processes of the House by straying on to territory that has nothing to do with the question the member asked.

The Hon. GREG PEARCE: To the point of order: It is a bit rich for the Leader of the Opposition to be talking about abusing the processes of the House—

The PRESIDENT: Order! The Minister will resume his seat. Question time is an opportunity for members to seek information. The Hon. Jan Barham asked a question; the Minister referred it to another Minister. It is not the time for the Minister to answer a question that he thinks another member might ask.

 

Answer:

2nd August 2011

BOARDING HOUSE ACCOMMODATION

On 21 June 2011 the Hon. Jan Barham asked the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for Ageing, and Minister for Disability Services, a question without notice regarding boarding house accommodation. The Minister for Ageing, and Minister for Disability Services provided the following response:

1. Under the Youth and Community Services Act 1973 (YACS Act) and Youth and Community Services Regulation 2010 (YACS Regulation), Ageing, Disability and Home Care (ADHC) has an obligation to licence and regulate boarding houses that accommodate two or more people with a disability who require supervision and social habilitation.

Official Community Visitors and ADHC officers regularly visit licensed boarding houses. In particular, ADHC officers regularly monitor licensed premises and work with proprietors to meet the standards required by the Conditions of Licence and the YACS Regulation.

Where a boarding house proprietor does not comply with the conditions of license and the legislation in a way that represents a risk to the safety, welfare and wellbeing of people with a disability, ADHC will not hesitate to take action under the YACS Act. This can include a prosecution or revocation of the licence.

2 & 3. ADHC has 10 Regional Licensing Officers as part of the Boarding House Reform Program who monitor licensed boarding houses through unannounced inspection visits on a six to eight weekly basis.

Additionally, Licensing Officers conduct comprehensive Full Service Reviews of each premises every three years.

Official Community Visitors visit licensed boarding houses approximately once every eight weeks.

4. I am satisfied with the current level and quality of monitoring exercised by ADHC in respect of licensed boarding houses. ADHC takes seriously and fulfils its role in monitoring licensed boarding houses to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of residents.

 

 

BANKSTOWN INCOME MANAGEMENT PILOT QWN

Ms Barham to the Minister for Finance and Services, and Minister for the Illawarra representing the Minister for Family and Community Services, and Minister for Women—

  1. What arrangements or agreements are in place between the Department of Family and Community Services and Centrelink to provide information about people living in Bankstown who have been referred to the Department?
  2. What class or type of referral to the Department will qualify a person, living in the Bankstown area receiving Federal Government welfare benefits, for income management?
  3. What community and social service programs currently funded by the Department are located in the Bankstown area? Please provide a complete list.
  4. What percentage of people referred to the Department living in the Bankstown area are receiving early intervention programs including Brighter Futures?

 

Answer—

  1. Bilateral negotiations have commenced with NSW Government and Commonwealth officials meeting to plan the implementation of the trial. These negotiations will include information sharing arrangements between the Department of Family and Community Services and Centrelink.  
  2. The Commonwealth has stated targeted income management will apply to vulnerable families and individuals including parents referred for income management by state or territory child protection authorities; people assessed by Centrelink social workers as being vulnerable to financial crisis, which could include people referred by public housing authorities because they are at risk of homelessness due to rental arrears; and people who volunteer for income management.
  3. In 2010-11, Community Services provided funding under the following funding programs in the Bankstown LGA:
    Community Services Grants Program: $1,615,845
    Children’s Services Program: $2,043,463
    Early Intervention Program: $2,889,438
    Keep Them Safe: $45,000
    Out-of-Home Care: $2,456,301
    Supported Accommodation Assistance Program: $2,097,294
    Strengthening Communities:  $2,137,969
    Total: $13,285,310
  4. The Department of Family and Community Services does not collect data on this basis.

COMPLAINTS UNDER THE COMMUNITY SERVICES (COMPLAINTS, REVIEW AND MONITORING) ACT 1993 QoN

Ms Barham to the Minister for Finance and Services, and Minister for the Illawarra representing the Minister for Ageing, and Minister for Disability Services—

  1. How many people or service providers have been found guilty of an offence under Section 47 of the Community Services (Complaints, Review and Monitoring) Act 1993?
  2. What action has Ageing, Disability and Home Care (ADHC), under the Department of Family and Community Services, taken to make clients of ADHC and non-government service providers aware of their right to be free from threats of retribution?
    1. Has ADHC through its internal complaints handling mechanism received allegations of threats of retaliation?
    2. If so, what course of action is ADHC required to take?

 

Answer—

  1. Ageing, Disability and Home Care (ADHC) is not aware of any people or service providers who have been found guilty of an offence under Section 47 of the Community Services (Complaints, Review and Monitoring) Act 1993.
  2. ADHC’s current Feedback and Complaint Handling Principles and Guidelines (2005) indicates that “all parties to a complaint should have the opportunity to have his or her say, without fear of a negative reaction or victimisation”. 
    In addition, ADHC’s publication, ‘Standards in Action – Practice requirements and Guidelines for services funded under the Disability Service Act’ provides in its minimum practice requirements a similar standard for practice. 
    ADHC’s revised Community Complaints Policy will strengthen the principles regarding threats and retribution such that: 
    “ADHC will treat complainants with respect and will ensure that complainants (and other parties to the complaint) are not subject to harassment or discrimination, are free from threats of retribution or disadvantaged as a result of having made a complaint.” 
    The policy statement and principles will be included on the complaints section of ADHC’s internet site, within revised brochures for clients, non–government service providers and other stakeholders. A communication strategy will be developed to promulgate the revised policy in the second half of 2011.
  3.  
    1. No
    2. Allegations of threats of retaliation would be treated as a breach of policy ⁄ Code of Conduct under Chapter 9 of the ‘Public Sector Employment and Management Act’ 2002 and action would be taken in accordance with ADHC’s processes for dealing with these matters. In addition if may be referred to the Law and Justice Directorate for prosecutorial consideration as an offence under the Act.

SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES PACKAGE

Ms Barham to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Minister for the Hunter, and Vice-President of the Executive Council representing the Premier, and Minister for Western Sydney—

  1. In regard to the priorities established in the Federal Government’s $230 million ‘Sustainable Australia – Sustainable Communities package’:
    1. Considering that population growth in non-metropolitan coastal areas has seen an increase from 4.9 million to 6.8 million people with an average rate of more than 146,000 people a year, is there sufficient focus on regional infrastructure development for New South Wales in this package?
    2. If not, what will the Government do?
  2. What role will the Government play in the Sustainable Regional Development Program which will support strategic assessments under national environmental law in up to seven additional regional and coastal growth areas?
  3. Which regional and coastal growth areas in New South Wales will be assessed under this program?

 

Answer—

The Government is taking an active role in developing a whole-of-government approach to regional infrastructure development. For example, Infrastructure NSW is being established as part of the Government’s 100 Day Action Plan to develop strategic infrastructure planning for NSW.

The Government is committed to engaging with the Commonwealth on funding and delivering optimal infrastructure outcomes for Regional NSW, including through the assessment and allocation of funds under the Federal Government’s “Sustainable Australia-Sustainable Communities’ package.

Supporting Young People Leaving Care

CREATE Foundation, an advocacy organisation for children who are in state care or have been in state care, recently released a report into the outcomes for young people leaving out-of-home-care or foster care in New South Wales.

In the first year after leaving care, CREATE has found that when children who have been in the care of the Minister turn 18, these young people are less likely than those in other states to have a Leaving Care Plan and up to one third may become homeless after leaving care.

Care leavers are more likely to be unemployed than others in this age group and are also more likely to spend time in prison. Barnardos have found that one in seven young people leaving care are either pregnant or already mothers.

Leaving Care Plans should be available to all of these vulnerable young people so that they can make a start on developing the life skills they will need to look after themselves in the adult world. This should include an introduction to training, further education or employment.

All young people who turn 18, have had a care order and been in the care of the Department of Family and Community Services or a non government care agency such as Barnardos or UnitingCare Burnside, should be offered substantial assistance to prepare for transition to adult life.

Ideally, preparation begins at age 15 when living skills such as cooking, budgeting and making job applications are practised with the help of case workers and carers. By the age of 17, carers and case workers need to be helping young people to prepare a “leaving care plan” which stays in place until age 25. Young people with a disability need to begin planning a little earlier and can seek assistance from Ageing, Disability and Home Care (ADHC) who can follow through with care plans.

Care Plans are an entitlement and young people have a legal right to have them so why is it that so few seem to be in place? I have asked the Minister for Family and Community Services and the Minister for Finance and Services to provide me with information on what percentage of children in the care of the Minister have leaving care plans. Both Ministers have refused to provide details on the number of children and young people in care with leaving care plans. I would have thought transparency in fulfilment of statutory rights was the order of the day for this new government.

Most care leavers are also entitled to a one-off payment called Transition to Independent Living Allowance (TILA) but many young people do not seem to be aware of this. I congratulate the Department of Family and Community Services for their document entitled “Information for Young People leaving Care – Your Next Step”. It provides comprehensive information for this group of young people.

Planning for Leaving Care ideally should begin when kids in care are 14 or 15, and as recommended in the document just mentioned, they need to make sure they are aware of personal hygiene, know how to cook a simple meal, use a washing machine and dryer, can use an ATM and manage a simple budget. They also need to know how to get help in an emergency, be able to list some birth control options and explain the risks of drugs, alcohol and unsafe sex. This knowledge is of course important to all teenagers.

At around age 17 it is necessary for young people to begin to acquire further skills such as knowing how to budget for ongoing costs as well as unexpected emergencies that might arise; knowing how to arrange accommodation and how to sign a rental agreement. Having a tax file number, a resume and learning how to apply for a job and knowing how to enrol to vote are also important skills to acquire. All this information and suggestions are contained in the FACS document – Your Next Step – Information for Young People Leaving Care.

 However, this great information often does not seem to translate into action for this vulnerable group.  It would appear that many do not receive the information or assistance to access it and act on it. I understand that the work required for case workers to go through this process is detailed and time-consuming, and high case loads mean that the time is not always available to get all this information to the young people who would greatly benefit from it.

In developing a Leaving Care Plan, a 17-year-old would probably benefit from the help of an independent party in what is essentially a contract negotiation with a government department.

An example of this would be Barnardo’s leaving care services that aim to bridge the gap for children in care between leaving care and living in the adult world. Barnardos will help young people to develop the life skills they will need to look after themselves, including those listed in the FACS document mentioned as well as encouraging them to undertake employment, training or further education.

When they leave care, Barnardo’s helps the young people secure permanent accommodation and remains available to offer support and counselling if necessary. If this essential system is in place but actually not being delivered effectively to young people, then possibly enforcement mechanisms need to be in place.

FINANCE AND SERVICES—EQUAL REMUNERATION CASE

Ms Barham to the Minister for Finance and Services, and Minister for the Illawarra—

  1. In paragraph 10 of the Minister for Finance and Service’s submission to the Equal Remuneration Case Fair Work Australia, the Minister states the Government’s policy response to funding cost increases associated with the case would be cutting expenditure on existing government services. Will the Government fund pay equity from Stronger Together II, Keep Them Safe and Brighter Futures budgets?
  2. Are funding budgets for Stronger Together II, Keep Them Safe and Brighter Futures quarantined?

 

Answer—

On 16 May 2011, the Full Bench of Fair Work Australia handed down an interim decision on the first application for an equal remuneration order under the Fair Work Act 2009.

Fair Work Australia has invited further submissions from interested parties on this issue. Further hearings will be held before Fair Work Australia on 8, 9 and 10 August 2011. The Government is currently considering whether it will make a further submission. If so, it will be due 21 July 2011.

The Government will be in a better position to provide informed advice in relation to the issues made by Ms Barham following any final decision of the tribunal.

Children and Young People in Kinship Care

KINSHIP CARE
31 May 2011
Page: 24

The Hon. JAN BARHAM: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for Family and Community Services, and Minister for Women. Will the Minister advise the House how many children are in kinship care in New South Wales? What percentage of children in out-of-home care does this number represent?

The Hon. GREG PEARCE: I thank the Hon. Jan Barham for another detailed and very interesting question. I will refer it to the Minister for an answer. I look forward to reading the answer as much as the member does.

The Hon. GREG PEARCE: On 31 May 2011 the Hon. Jan Barham asked me in my capacity as the Minister representing the Minister for Family and Community Services, and Minister for Women a question without notice regarding kinship care. The Minister for Family and Community Services, and Minister for Women has provided the following response:

  •  
      1. As at 30 June 2010, there were 8,844 children and young people in out-of-home care placed in relative and kinship care.

      2. This represents 50.8 per cent of all children and young people in out-of-home care as at 30 June 2010.

Regulation of Early Childhood Education Childcare and Childcare Licensing Fees

CHILDCARE SERVICES
1 June 2011
Page: 29

The Hon. JAN BARHAM: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for Family and Community Services. Will the Minister confirm whether childcare services are still required to enter into service agreements with the Department of Family and Community Services, even though the Minister for Education is now responsible for parts 12 and 12A of the Children and Young People (Care and Protection) Act? Does the Minister for Family and Community Services agree with the Hon. Greg Pearce’s assessment of licensing fees for childcare centres on 4 December 2008 wherein he stated childcare licensing fees are “a prime example of the Government’s grab for tax and cash through its half-baked mini-budget … which will hurt employers and families”?

The Hon. GREG PEARCE: I thank the Hon. Jan Barham for her question. I am very impressed with the research that is going on. Importantly, this research is going into Hansard. It is research that has a base to it. Unlike the Opposition, which takes all of its research from the newspapers—

The Hon. Michael Gallacher: Last week’s newspapers.

The Hon. GREG PEARCE: That is right, last week’s newspapers. Then they take it out of context when they get it out of the newspapers. So they are not even satisfied with what is in the newspapers. However, it is a detailed question. Obviously, I will need to get a detailed answer from the Minister and come back to the honourable member.

Leaving Care Plans

LEAVING CARE PLANS
25 May 2011
Page: 23

The Hon. JAN BARHAM: My question is directed to the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for Family and Community Services. Will the Minister advise what percentage of children and young people in the care of the Minister have leaving care plans? Do all leaving care plans make provision for care leavers to be assisted in applying for the Federal Government transition to independent living allowance?

The Hon. GREG PEARCE: Once again I thank the honourable member—are you honourable?

The Hon. Jan Barham: Yes.

The Hon. GREG PEARCE: I like the honourable Greens. Actually, I am really pleased to see that they have got over their little rebirthing period when they stopped wearing ties and there were two factions. This is an important and detailed question and I will refer it to the Minister and obtain an answer as soon as I can.

The Hon. GREG PEARCE: On 25 May 2011 the Hon. Jan Barham asked me in my capacity as the Minister representing the Minister for Family and Community Services, and Minister for Women a question without notice regarding leaving care plans. The Minister for Family and Community Services, and Minister for Women has provided the following response:

 • Your Next Step: Information for young people leaving care is to assist young people. This resource includes information about the Federal Government’s Transition to Independent Living Allowance.

• Carers of young people leaving care are given a resource Leading the Way: Preparing young people for leaving care A Guide for Carers. This resource includes tips to help the carer prepare the young person, as well as a guide on entitlements including the Transition to Independent Living Allowance.

. The O’Farrell Stoner government supports leaving care planning for children and young people. Currently, planning for some children and young people may be more involved than for others based on individuals’ circumstances and needs. More information about leaving care planning can be found at www.community.nsw.gov.au/

2. Leaving care planning for young people leaving care with a goal of independent living is undertaken in consultation with the young person, to meet their needs given their particular circumstances. This work usually commences when they turn 15 years of age to allow them to prepare for this important event. Where appropriate for the young person, assistance in applying for Transition to Independent Living Allowance would be included in the Leaving Care plan.

In late 2010 two resources with information on leaving care for young people and carers were developed and distributed:

Details about the resources were also sent to peak bodies and relevant agencies.

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