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Thursday, 22 June 2000
Page: 18167

Ms LIVERMORE (1:14 PM) —Today, I would like to speak on behalf of a young woman in my electorate. Her name is Sheree Mulholland. Sheree is a hairdressing apprentice who began her apprenticeship in November last year. She has got a job with one of our local hairdressing businesses and, from all reports, she is doing very well and her employer is very pleased with her. The problem is that she is going through what you could say are the best of times and the worst of times. She has got the chance at the moment to achieve something that she has longed to do for a long time, which is to get through her hairdressing apprenticeship and make a career for herself, but she is finding that very difficult because she is under the New Apprenticeships scheme and she has applied under the auspices of that scheme for a living away from home allowance to assist her with living costs while she undergoes that apprenticeship which, as most members would understand, has a very low rate of pay, in recognition of her recent entry into the industry.

She has applied for living away from home allowance to Queensland Apprenticeship Services, which is the New Apprenticeships centre in our local town of Rockhampton. Her application for living away from home allowance has been rejected, and this is causing her enormous hardship. I would like to speak on her behalf today in the hope that the minister, David Kemp, will treat her case with due consideration and overturn that decision.

She was rejected because her circumstances were said not to fit the criteria for living away from home allowance. The criteria are that you have actually left your home town or that you are in fact homeless. There is no interpretation of homelessness that I can think of to which you could point to say that Sheree Mulholland is not homeless. Sheree is homeless. Her mum died when she was only a young girl and her father is currently very ill. He is living in supported accommodation provided by the Rockhampton City Council, and that supported accommodation consists of single-bedroom units and it is for men only. I have received a letter from the president of the management committee that looks after and administers those units. I have also had discussions with the president of that committee, and she has confirmed that it is not possible for this young woman to live with her father. So she has no family home as such. Her father is living in this unit which has been provided to him because he is seriously ill at the moment and needs supported accommodation.

I have written to the minister outlining the circumstances that Sheree finds herself in. I wrote on 19 May this year, setting out in some detail the difficulties that Sheree is experiencing. I spoke to the minister's office this morning and they have acknowledged the letter and it is being processed. I would call on the minister to look at the circumstances of this case very seriously. Here is a young woman who has all the opportunities of life ahead of her. She is an extremely well presented and very articulate young woman and I have no doubt that she has a bright future ahead of her. But, at the moment, she is in circumstances where she does not know where she is going to go at night. She is going from one friend's spare bedroom to the next one, and this is no way for her to succeed in her career.

Her employer speaks very highly of her and, having met Sheree and spoken to her on many occasions, I can see why they want to give her all the support they can. I ask the minister not to hide behind semantics and definitions on this. Even if they want to apply the strictest definition of homelessness that you could possibly come up with, I just do not see how Sheree could fall outside that definition. She has no family home; she has no place to live. To me, that has got to be homeless. I ask the minister to look very carefully at the circumstances of this girl's case and to make the decision that she is entitled to a living away from home allowance to ensure that she has the best possible chance of proceeding with her apprenticeship and making a great contribution not only to that industry but to our community.