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Wednesday, 31 July 2019
Page: 1670


Dr LEIGH (Fenner) (10:06): Thirty-year-old Cameron Van-Lane and his three housemates in Dickson have taken to putting bubble wrap on their windows in order to keep the house warm. As Mr Van-Lane told the RiotACT:

… it is an expensive heating system to run and as soon as you turn it off, the house quickly loses its heat and gets cold again.

According to a report called Baby it's cold inside: energy efficient ratings in the ACT, over two out of five rental properties have an energy efficiency rating of zero. As Joel Dignam, the executive director of Better Renting, said, seeing how poorly insulated some Canberra homes are is 'confronting'.

The challenges of living in a city like Canberra come particularly in the middle of winter. Michael, 45, is a former systems engineer who suffers from mental illness. He has been sleeping rough and told The Canberra Times:

I slept in a cabinet someone had left in a car park the other night—but I draw the line at a skip!

Next week is Homelessness Week, and it will be a time when many Canberrans are acknowledging the hard work that's being done but also the scale of the challenge. I pay tribute to the many organisations and individuals within the ACT who work to tackle poverty and disadvantage, including Kathy Ragless at Companion House, Susan Helyar at ACTCOSS, Barnie van Wyk at St Vinnie's, Mandy Green at Belconnen Community Service, Torrien Lau at YWCA, Bruce Papps at Northside Community Service, Jeremy Halcrow at Anglicare Canberra and Goulburn, Lee Maiden at Communities@Work, Julie Blackburn at Karralika, Caroline Odgers at GIVIT, Richard Griffiths at Safe Shelter, Neil Harrigan at CatholicCare and Carmel Franklin at Care Financial Counselling Service.

The ACT government is working hard to tackle the challenges of deprivation, but, since the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison government came to office, life has become harder for many Canberrans. Yesterday the HILDA report showed that median equivalised household income in the ACT has fallen from $74,394 in 2012-13, when the Liberals came to office, to $66,230 on the most recent figures. That's an 11 per cent fall in median household income, more than twice the size of the drop in household income in Perth at the end of the unprecedented mining construction boom. It's come as a result of the decimation of the Public Service and real wage cuts for many public servants. It's made it harder for Canberrans to make ends meet and posed challenges for many of those living on the breadline. It is vital that we recognise the real challenge of poverty and deprivation here in the nation's capital.