Pages tagged "Housing and Homelessness"
The New State Budget
01 June 2022
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I rise today to talk about the Malinauskas government's first budget. Budgets are a statement of priorities. They reflect what a government wants to achieve over the next four years and they reflect the values of the government. We are hoping that this new government will take some real action to reduce skyrocketing inequality in our state. We are hoping that this first budget will be one that is focused on increasing the wellbeing of all South Australians and addressing our climate crisis.
To that end, it is very disappointing to see the announcement of the Malinauskas government today, via the Minister for Energy, Tom Koutsantonis, that they will be axing renewable energy programs in tomorrow's budget. That is a decision to scrap the Home Battery Scheme and to dump the Switch for Solar program in order to save $19 million. That might deliver a quick cash injection into the budget, it might improve the budget bottom line, but it is going to come at a significant cost to the South Australian community and to our environment. It is really disappointing to see those cuts being foreshadowed in the budget today.
The Greens are calling for the Malinauskas government to take some real action in terms of reducing cost-of-living pressures being faced by families. They could do this by putting more money into public housing. We know that South Australia is in the middle of a housing affordability crisis. Adelaide is the second least affordable city in Australia and has a vacancy rate of just 0.2 per cent.
Every week, my office is inundated with calls from South Australians who cannot find a place to live, who cannot break into the housing market in terms of being able to afford to buy a home, who cannot access a rental and who cannot find affordable accommodation. The government needs to take action to address that by building more housing. We know that a meagre investment of 400 new homes is just not going to cut it.
We need to see the government introduce rent capping as a way of keeping rents low. We can look at what has happened in other jurisdictions around the world—places like Ireland, Spain and the US—they have done this and it is time for Adelaide to do the same. But we also need to see this government invest in our education system. We need to see a scrapping of public school fees in recognition of the fact that public education should be free for all South Australians. We know that South Australian public schools are significantly underfunded by millions of dollars each year and it is parents who are forced to pick up the slack through exorbitant school fees. That needs to change.
We need to see an emphasis on the cost of living and bringing that down. That means also trying to increase public sector wages. It is concerning that the government has foreshadowed public sector cuts in this budget. We hope that does not mean we are going to see job losses. We hope that does not mean we are going to see a reduction in salaries for our public sector workers.
The government should also be putting money into our public transport system. That has been neglected by the Liberal Party during their brief period in government, but it was also significantly neglected by the previous Labor government during their 16-year reign. The new government needs to take some action to address that: make it free and improve the infrastructure.
I talked about education. In a state like South Australia, no child should go hungry. That is why in the recent election we called for the government to provide free breakfast and free school lunches. That is something we could do if we ensured that the big end of town paid their fair share of tax. We know that there are 23,000 South Australian children who live in poverty. This state budget should take efforts to address that.
The government was elected on a platform of wanting to create a better future for all South Australians. Tomorrow will be an opportunity for them to demonstrate their commitment to do just that. I hope that they consider some of the ideas that the Greens have put on the table today.
Greens call for rent controls to rein in soaring prices
28 April 2022
The State Government should implement rent controls to get prices under control, say The Greens.
The call comes as Anglicare’s Australia Rental Affordability Snapshot reveals only two of 1125 homes on the market in Adelaide can be afforded by an individual on the minimum wage and none could be afforded by individuals trying to live on Jobseeker.
“Rental prices are skyrocketing out of control. While many South Australians are being locked out of the rental market, some landlords are making record profits,” said the Greens Housing Spokesperson Robert Simms MLC.
“It’s time for the State Government to follow the lead of other jurisdictions overseas and implement rent controls to protect struggling renters.
“This has worked in New York for years - why not Adelaide?”
Mr Simms plans to raise the matter in parliament next week. The Greens also renewed their calls for the Government to boost investment in public housing to reduce prices.
Greens welcome Labor housing investment, but more needed
26 April 2022
The SA Greens have welcomed the Malinauskas Labor Government's moves to restore funding to homelessness services and build 400 new public homes but have called for further housing investment in the next state budget.
"The Labor Government's decision to restore funding to the Hutt St Centre, Catherine House and St Vincent de Paul Society is a big win for people power. The previous Liberal Government's funding cuts were righty met with outrage by the community. The Greens welcome Labor's support for these vital services," said the SA Greens Housing Spokesperson, Robert Simms MLC.
"We also welcome the Government's boost to public housing, but 400 new public homes is simply not enough to deal with our state's housing affordability crisis. With rents continuing to soar and more South Australians living on the streets, the Greens are calling for a big investment in public housing in the first Malinauskas budget."
COVID-19 Emergency Response (No. 3)
7th September 2021
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: If it pleases the Chair, I will make some general remarks about the three amendments in their totality rather than standing up and speaking on each individually. As foreshadowed by my colleague, the Hon. Tammy Franks MLC, what these amendments are seeking to do is reinstate the provisions relating to the moratorium on rental evictions and rent increases for those who are experiencing financial hardship as a result of COVID-19.
By way of background, members may recall that, when I started in this place in May, this was one of the first bills that came before me and the rest of this chamber for consideration. At that time, I argued for the provisions to be extended for another 12 months, up until May 2022. The Legislative Council did not agree to that; however, the government did agree to a September extension and I certainly welcomed that.
But now, as I warned at the time, we are in the situation where these provisions have expired. Indeed, they expired on 1 September so there is nothing in place, and I am very concerned, the Greens are very concerned, about the plight of people who are experiencing financial distress at the moment, in particular people who are renting. We have had lots of queries from the community to our office about this.
We know that there is significant rental stress being experienced in the community. We know that we are in the middle of a rental affordability crisis here in South Australia because there is not enough affordable housing available. People who are renting are finding it really, really difficult to find accommodation, which means of course that it is vitally important that we do not see people being evicted in the middle of this economic crisis.
To give the chamber a bit of an insight into some of the experiences of our constituents, I have been given some information from the Anti-Poverty Network in South Australia. They have shared some testimonies with me from people who are experiencing rental stress. These are de-identified, but I will read some of the stories onto Hansard because I think it is important that members get some of this information in terms of understanding the importance of these provisions. In terms of the impact of rent increases, this is what one person reported:
Once my rent has been paid I have $50 left for a fortnight to pay…electricity, gas, food, petrol, and other costs such as medication, as I suffer from lung conditions. The amount I have left is seriously not realistic, it is not enough to live on, let alone eat. The stress of enduring this each and every day has taken a toll on my emotional and physical wellbeing.
Another has said:
I have three daughters, [one] 9 [another] 2 and [another] almost 2, it stresses me to no end wondering if I'll be able to afford to feed them after paying rent. We've had our power disconnected so many times I've lost count, just because I pay rent first. Once in particular, it was cut off at 5pm, when our youngest was still a newborn.
My partner and I can only afford to pay rent because we are splitting costs with my two adult children, who too cannot afford to rent on their own. We, and they, are stuck co-renting even though they would like to have their own place, and my partner and I would enjoy living our lives without adult children.
Of course, we know that is becoming all too common—the scenario of ageing parents having younger adult children coming to live with them, something I am sure is not desirable for many parents as well as their children. As much as I love my mum and dad, I would not enjoy bunking up with them and I know that is the situation for many in the community. But alas, that is the situation they find themselves in because of this rental affordability crisis. Another says:
I have to meal plan all the way down to pieces of fruit to meet nutritional guidelines for my kids. I often go without so my kids can have what they need. we never go out. Every cent is spent on living costs.
Finally, another constituent has said:
I pay $350 a week for a house that's falling apart and I'm to scared to say anything in case I end up homeless with 3 kids—1 being newborn.
These are just some of the stories of people who are experiencing financial stress, people who are renting and will be hard hit if these provisions are not extended.
Just to talk very briefly about the exact nature of what I am proposing here in terms of the amendments, members will note the reference to backdating the provisions so they would take effect from 2 September, because the measures expired on 1 September. So it would apply to people from that period up until the end of December. As I stated from the outset, it is certainly my preference and that of the Greens that the provisions be extended up until May, but I recognise that there was not the support to do that and that is why I am proposing December.
These provisions are aligned with the other elements of the bill and, to the Hon. Connie Bonaros' point, I think this is a fair compromise and one that would certainly give people who are experiencing financial hardship some confidence and some security as we head into the second half of the year, recognising that we are still very much in the throes of this pandemic and the associated economic crisis.
Question: Vaccination Rollout
7th September 2021
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (15:50): I seek leave to make a brief statement before addressing a question without notice to the Minister for Health on the topic of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout for these experiencing homelessness.
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: Back in July, the government announced its trial COVID-19 vaccination clinic for South Australians experiencing homelessness in the city as part of its outreach program. With an estimated 6,000 people in South Australia currently experiencing homelessness, organisations that support homeless people are calling for them to be prioritised as part of the rollout. My questions to the minister are:
- How many people experiencing homelessness have received their first and second vaccination?
- What is the process for ensuring that follow-up appointments for full vaccinations are kept?
- What is the timeline for moving beyond a trial phase that is confined simply to the city?
The Hon. S.G. WADE (Minister for Health and Wellbeing) (15:51): I thank the honourable member for his question. The Marshall government is determined to ensure that every South Australian has access to the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible to keep our state safe and our economy strong. We have a particular focus on vulnerable people in our community.
SA Health has been working with the new homelessness alliances to ensure that service providers are engaged in the planning for the delivery of the vaccine in the homeless sector. The alliances include providers who deliver services to homeless people, from those sleeping rough, couch surfing or sleeping in cars, to those suffering domestic and family violence.
The rollout will continue in partnership with the sector, SA Health and SA Ambulance, with a tailored approach to the vaccination of people experiencing homelessness. It was my privilege, on 9 July 2021, to launch the rollout for people sleeping rough at Westcare in Wright Street. It was particularly my privilege because my father was the superintendent at Westcare for some years.
South Australia's vaccine rollout program continues to gather momentum as vaccine supply increases. Some of the points I was making in my previous answer are directly relevant here too. We have been working with different service providers to work out what would work best for their particular service group. For example, in relation to one service we provided specific clinics at the Women's and Children's Hospital. In the northern suburbs a dedicated Aboriginal clinic has been established, and we continue to look at opportunities to expand service provision to the Aboriginal community.
In relation to the point the honourable member makes about second doses, one of the strategies to facilitate the completion of the vaccine cycle is for an outreach service to come back at the relevant time after their first visit. Also, SA Health does continue to provide a call-back service through the local health networks to promote the need for a second dose. In our regions, SA Health is working with local providers of services and offering the vaccine across several sites.
On the point the honourable member made in terms of coverage, it is difficult to determine how many homeless people have been vaccinated as it is not an identifier used for recording purposes in the Australian immunisation register. The Marshall government will continue in our efforts to ensure that it is widely available.
Homeless people continue to be a priority for this government during the pandemic. Members would recall that during the first wave the honourable Minister for Human Services facilitated hotel accommodation to protect homeless citizens. We are all in this together, and none of us are safe from the virus until we are all safe from the virus.
The honourable member expressed concern first of all that it was a pilot and secondly that we were being city focused. This issue was raised on 9 July. It was never a pilot in the sense that we were seeing whether we liked the idea. The fact is we are committed to outreach services, as I said in my previous answer. It was a pilot in the sense that, there being an outreach service from the mass vaccination clinic at Wayville, did this model work?
The fact that the model does work is reflected in the fact that we are continuing to deliver these types of services. For example, last week our mobile vaccination clinics visited a range of sites, including sites at which homeless people would often be engaged. We had mobile vaccination clinics at Central DASA, the Hutt St Centre, Westcare Day Centre, Common Ground, Aldinga Community Centre, the Noarlunga Aboriginal Family Clinic, the Hackham West Community Centre and the Christies Downs Community House.
I am delighted that we are now moving into the period where supplies of the vaccine are significantly increasing, because that will give us even more opportunities to reach out to vulnerable communities or vaccine hesitant communities.
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (15:56): Supplementary: I thank the minister for his comprehensive response. I note his statement that it is difficult to—
The PRESIDENT: Question, please.
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I note his statement that it is difficult to get data on people who are experiencing homelessness and those who have received the vaccination.
The PRESIDENT: Question, the Hon. Mr Simms.
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: Will he give an undertaking, however, that he will share the information that he does have with this place?
The Hon. S.G. WADE (Minister for Health and Wellbeing) (15:57): I certainly will see if I can get further information. As I said, the AIR data doesn't record immunisation, so we would have to be using other means.
Motion: Green New Deal
9 June 2021
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I move:
That this council—
1. Supports a Green New Deal for South Australia.
2. Notes that 2020 was an incredibly difficult time for South Australians, starting with drought and bushfires, and followed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
3. Further notes that increasing unemployment due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, as well as climate change and rising economic inequality, are key challenges facing South Australians into the future.
4. Calls on the Marshall Government to adopt an innovative jobs growth plan through investing in:
(a) publicly owned renewable energy and storage projects to address climate change;
(b) social housing to help end homelessness;
(c) employing more educators, healthcare workers, nurses and social support workers to ensure all South Australians have access to the care they need;
(d) the expansion of the public transport network to reduce congestion and decrease emissions;
(e) reviving our CBD precinct to support local businesses;
(f) creative industries and the arts; and
(g) care for country and culture.
This motion is calling on this council to support a Green New Deal for South Australia and calling on the Marshall government to adopt an innovative jobs growth plan through investing in a range of measures that would help fight the climate crisis and rising inequality in our state. South Australia should be leading the way with a Green New Deal to change our state for the better. People are angry and anxious because the government has no plan for the big problems that are facing our state. We need to see ambitious and innovative ideas from our leaders and the Green New Deal will do just that.
Many in this place will be familiar with the term 'a Green New Deal'. It was first coined by US Democrat congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) and essentially creates a bold agenda calling for government action on climate change along with the other social aims of job creation and reducing economic inequality.
What would a Green New Deal mean for South Australia? What would it look like? Many different groups have started to consider how we could harness a green recovery to address some of the biggest issues facing our state and our nation. To put it simply, a Green New Deal is a plan of investment and action to build a clean green economy.
The last 18 months have seen South Australia's economy take a significant hit. From the devastating bushfires that have ravaged parts of our state and the continued impact of the global pandemic to the highest unemployment levels in the country and the ever-present threat posed by the climate crisis, it is clear that now is the time for bold innovative new plans for our great state.
With the state budget just weeks away, and the last one before the 2022 election, I am calling on the government and this parliament to seize the opportunity to rethink our economy and to spend big on new projects and programs that would create green jobs and address the important challenges of our age.
I talked about the fact that this motion is calling on the Marshall government to adopt an innovative jobs growth plan for investing in a range of different measures. One of those, of course, must be publicly owned renewables in South Australia. South Australia's abundant wind and solar resources mean that we are ideally suited to lead the nation and the world with 100 per cent renewable energy, and we should do that by 2025. A renewable-led recovery will create the jobs we need, it will tackle climate change and reduce energy prices.
The Greens' vision for South Australia is one that will make the most of our state's skills in manufacturing and create new jobs for the future, and we know that as we transition away from coal and carbon we can create new jobs in green innovation and renewable energy. We should harness the skills of our state's manufacturing industry for the development of new technologies, things like cutting-edge renewables, light rail and electric cars, and we should be making those things in South Australia.
It is regrettable, of course, that we saw the previous federal Liberal government, led by Tony Abbott, totally deprioritise the support for the automotive industry in South Australia, and really we should be trying to kickstart that industry with new investment so that it can start manufacturing electric cars in a significant way.
We also need a Green New Deal so that we can tackle homelessness and the housing crisis. One of the most pressing issues in this state at the moment is homelessness and housing affordability. We need a housing system that is about people, not profit. Homelessness is not inevitable. We can solve it. Everybody has a right to a roof over their head and a place to call home. It is not acceptable to simply say it is inevitable for people to sleep on the street or that people are going to be sleeping in tents. We need to see leadership from government to ensure that we invest in the housing that we need.
We have seen some wonderful strategies recommended by the Adelaide Zero Project, but we need more of an investment from the government. This is not a quick fix, but we need a long-term housing strategy that will end homelessness in our state. Housing, after all, is a human right. To end homelessness, we need to provide homes for tens of thousands of people on the waiting list, and we can do this by building housing, creating jobs and ensuring that nobody is discharged into homelessness.
As part of a Green New Deal, we need to also consider what we can do to make our society a caring society. The implementation of a Green New Deal is not just about green jobs and the green economy. It is also about investing in other types of work, particularly those types of industries that are traditionally female dominated.
Through the pandemic, we have seen just how essential our caring professions are for our communities, from our healthcare professionals who continue to work on the frontline, to our educators who adapted with flexible teaching arrangements to the pandemic, to our community service workers who continue to support the most vulnerable people in our society. We need to ensure that they are remunerated properly, and we need to ensure that they are supported with more funding so that they can employ more workers.
We also need as part of a Green New Deal to deal with expanding our public transport network. Bigger roads are not the answer to traffic congestion. We in the Greens have a different vision. We need a well-funded and well-functioning public transport system that gets people where they need to go quickly, reliably, safely and cheaply. We need greater investment in bikes and walking infrastructure that will give South Australians the freedom to choose riding or walking as a safe, easy option and to leave their cars at home.
A few weeks ago, I introduced a bill to establish a walking and cycling commissioner to encourage walking and cycling as modes of transport in our state, to promote the health, environmental, social and economic benefits of this, and to prepare and to promote strategies to make walking and cycling inclusive for everybody in South Australia. It is really regrettable, I think, that we have not seen the investment in cycling infrastructure that we need in South Australia, in particular, in the City of Adelaide.
Sadly, the City of Adelaide has spent over $400,000 on planning the east-west bikeway only to knock it on the head under the leadership of Alex Hyde from the conservative wing of the Liberal Party that dominates town hall. I think that is really regrettable because South Australians, in particular people in the City of Adelaide, are desperate for cycling infrastructure to be rolled out. A Green New Deal would not only fund more bike lanes in the CBD area, it would also encourage greater use of public transport through free or subsidised tickets. This would not only help reduce congestion in the city, it would also encourage more people to come back into our CBD, which would be a positive knock-on effect for local businesses that are currently struggling.
We know that our CBD has been hard hit by this pandemic. Many businesses have been forced to close their doors, and many city-based employees are still working from home. A Green New Deal would ensure that we prioritise a plan that continues to enliven the city, extending the free wi-fi network, supporting entrepreneurs, growing small bars and live music, and setting some clear renewable energy targets for the city.
I know that a number of small businesses in the CBD are struggling and will be very alarmed by the Marshall government's plans to deregulate shop trading hours. They will be very alarmed that they are not going to be able to compete with Coles and Woolies and the big players, and that that is going to punish them and damage their business. The Greens certainly stand with them in that struggle.
As part of a Green New Deal, we need to look at creative industries. Creative industries are the engine room of our economy, and yet they were the first industry directly hit by the impacts of the pandemic. In the last 18 months, we have seen our cultural and creative sectors suffer enormous damage due to restrictions on public gatherings and performances and exhibitions that were cancelled in the interests of public health. Of course, I make no criticism of the government for doing that—it was necessary in terms of a public health response—but we do need to ensure that our arts sector is now supported in the days ahead because that has had a significant impact.
The knock-on effect of this has been substantial for our broader South Australian community, and for our economy, not least the many thousands of people who are employed in related industries that are driven so strongly by the arts here in our state. Those industries include tourism, hospitality, regional affairs and community businesses—all these things rely on a thriving, creative industry.
While South Australia has fared fairly well, and we can consider the success of things like the Adelaide Fringe Festival earlier this year, we must not lose sight of the fact that the disappearance of the Australian creative sector will have a major social, economic and cultural impact on our state both in the short and the long term. We know that the arts community have not been eligible for federal government support through JobKeeper, so that means they have been really hard hit by this pandemic.
Finally, a Green New Deal would also look at how we can care for country and culture. When I talk about caring for country, I am talking about First Nations people's approaches to land and water management. For First Nations people, it is increasingly documented that caring for country is linked to maintaining cultural life, identity, autonomy and health. The diverse environmental activities to which First Nations people contribute have positive outcomes for climate mitigation, biodiversity monitoring, the protection of endangered species, landscape health and more. It is for exactly that reason that a Green New Deal is really important because it would ensure that this knowledge and experience is at the forefront of policy and decision-making.
This is our chance to start thinking about how we can reshape our state, how we can create a fairer and more sustainable South Australia, how we can become a productive leader and how we can be a state that actually tackles the climate crisis and ensures that everybody has what they need to live a happy and healthy life.
We need to think differently. That has been one of the lessons of the pandemic and the ensuing economic crisis. We need to think differently and now is the time for us to do that. Now is the time for us to commit to a Green New Deal. South Australia can create a cleaner, fairer future for all of us, and I urge all members of this council to support the motion.
Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. D.G.E. Hood.
Covid -19 Permanent Measures Bill
8 June 2021
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I welcome the opportunity to talk about the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on South Australia. It really goes without saying that we have been very lucky in our state when it comes to the impact of COVID-19. I think a lot of us reflect on that when we see what is happening over in Victoria at the moment and the regrettable situation that they face there. We are very lucky in that sense. However, whilst many of us have been lucky, this has not been a lucky time for everybody in our community. In fact, COVID-19 has exposed the growing pandemic of inequality that has been sweeping the globe over the last few decades. Really, this pandemic has shone a light on that.
In particular, I want to talk a little bit about the impact on some of the most vulnerable people in our community. As my honourable colleague Tammy Franks has stated, we saw the government take action to support people who are homeless, in terms of connecting them with short-term accommodation during the pandemic. That was a welcome thing, but unfortunately we have not seen the follow-through. We have not seen the government then ensure that those people are provided long-term accommodation.
I really fear that there are people sleeping on our streets—I know there are people sleeping on our streets in the middle of this harsh winter—and that is simply not good enough for a state like South Australia. It is simply not acceptable that we have people sleeping on the street when we have so many resources at our disposal. Where is the leadership from this government to deal with the housing and homelessness crisis?
We also know, and this has been reported extensively over the last few months, that if you are somebody who is renting and you are trying to live on JobSeeker—and I say 'trying to live' because you cannot live on JobSeeker; it is woefully inadequate—you cannot find a single place that is affordable for you to rent in South Australia. If you are a single person, there is not one single property that is affordable for you to rent. I think that is an outrage.
I really would like to see some leadership from the government to deal with the rental crisis. What are they doing in terms of building more social housing? What are they doing in terms of building more public housing? What are they doing in terms of building more affordable housing? This is not something we can just push off into the never-never; it is integral to the response to this pandemic and the economic crisis that has followed. Just today, I noted a news report on the ABC, referring to homelessness services in Port Lincoln. I quote:
A homeless support service in South Australia's Port Lincoln is reluctantly calling for locals to donate tents, sleeping bags and old swags, following an increase in people seeking support in the…region.
It comes as reports of rental shortages across…SA emerge…
What on earth is happening when we have vulnerable people being forced to sleep in tents because we do not have enough accommodation available in our state and in our regional centres? That is a disgrace. That is an absolute disgrace, and we need leadership from this government to address that.
As I said before, COVID-19 has really exposed that ongoing crisis of inequality in South Australia, and it has really highlighted the potential for government to take action that changes people's lives for the better. What we need from this government is for them to embrace this opportunity to actually take the leadership that is necessary to deal with the public health crisis and also the growing crisis of inequality in South Australia, recognising that every South Australian deserves a roof over their head and a place to call home, and that that is the right of every citizen in our community, not just the wealthy few.
Whilst I support this bill and commend this bill, I call on the Marshall government to go further in terms of advocating for vulnerable South Australians and in terms of investing in the infrastructure that we need to ensure that people are not plunged into poverty as a result of this economic crisis. I note that the government has called a Code Blue to support people during the extreme weather that we are facing over the next few days, but they are announcing that measure—and of course the Greens welcome that—at a time when they have initiated brutal cuts to the homelessness sector in South Australia. We have seen cuts to Street to Home, cuts to Catherine House, cuts to the Hutt St Centre; again, a failure of leadership at a time when leadership is so desperately needed.
In terms of concluding my remarks, I make a few comments about the rollout of the vaccine to people who are homeless. You may recall that I asked the health minister in question time during our previous sitting period what the government's plan was to ensure that the vaccine was made available to people who are homeless.
He provided an explanation and stated that he was going to be dealing with support services to get the vaccine out through food trucks that already provide support to people who are homeless. It is great that something is being looked at, but we need to have more detail on that. The minister's response really threw open more questions than it did answers.
We need to know whether or not more resources are being allocated to these organisations so that they can roll out the vaccine. Are these the sorts of organisations that have been impacted by the Liberals' brutal cuts to homelessness support services? Are these organisations going to be able to ensure that a follow-up vaccine is provided to people who are homeless? What measures are in place to ensure that we can keep track of these people and ensure that they receive the second vaccine that they so desperately need?
All of these are questions that the government has failed to answer. When I asked the minister about this I received, might I say, a fairly churlish response correcting me about the size of the health department. That is not good enough. We need to see leadership from the government on these questions, and we need to see answers to these questions, so that vulnerable South Australians know that they are getting the support they desperately need during this economic crisis. I commend the bill, but I call on the government to show the leadership that we need to ensure that no South Australian is left behind.
Notice of Motion: Green New Deal
27 May 2021
Mr President, I give notice that on Wednesday the 9th of June 2021 I will move that this council:
1. supports a green new deal for South Australia,
2. notes that 2020 was an incredibly difficult time for South Australians starting with drought and bushfires and followed by the COVID-19 pandemic,
3. notes that increasing unemployment due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as well as the climate change and rising inequality are key challenges facing South Australians into the future,
4. calls on the Marshall Government to adopt an innovative jobs growth plan through investing in:
a. publicly owned renewable energy and storage projects to address climate change,
b. social housing to help end homelessness,
c. employing more educators, healthcare workers, nurses and social support workers to ensure all South Australians have access to the care they need,
d. the expansion of the public transport network to reduce congestion and decrease emissions,
e. reviving our cbd precinct to support local businesses,
f. creating industries our creative industries and the arts and,
g. care for Country and Culture.
Question: COVID-19 Vaccinations for People Who Are Homeless
25 May 2021
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (14:37): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question without notice to the Minister for Health and Wellbeing on the topic of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout for those experiencing homelessness.
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: With an estimated 6,000 people in South Australia currently experiencing homelessness, their ability to access the COVID-19 vaccine is particularly unclear, especially given this vaccine requires a follow-up shot. The pace of Australia's vaccination program is under increasing scrutiny and many experts are concerned some of the most vulnerable will be left behind. My question to the minister is: what is the current plan to ensure those experiencing homelessness have access to and receive the vaccine?
The Hon. S.G. WADE (Minister for Health and Wellbeing) (14:37): My understanding is that, particularly in relation to the homeless cohort, homeless South Australians will be relying on our local health networks to reach out to them. This morning, I was talking to the Chief Executive Officer of the Southern Adelaide Local Health Network, Professor Sue O'Neill, specifically on this topic. The approach that they are taking there is to take out a van. My understanding is it's a food van, which already provides food services to homeless people. My understanding is that that is obviously to facilitate familiarity and trust.
It's intended that there would be an ambulance attending with the van. Obviously, the risk of anaphylactic shock or other adverse effects is just as great for a homeless person as any other South Australian; in fact, I suspect it would be higher because of their likely relatively low health status. I certainly know that the Central Adelaide Local Health Network has a strong and proud heritage of providing outreach services to homeless people. My understanding is that they are activating those relationships, but I will seek more information for the honourable member and provide it to him separately.
The PRESIDENT: Supplementary, the Hon. Mr Simms.
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (14:39): Noting the minister's answer, can he advise what arrangements will be put in place to ensure that a follow-up shot is provided to people who are homeless?
The Hon. S.G. WADE (Minister for Health and Wellbeing) (14:39): No, it's a good point, and I failed to mention in response to the honourable member's question that Professor O'Neill indicated that this outreach service would use Pfizer shots so that the gap between the first shot and the second shot would be shorter. I don't think that means that there won't be problems in terms of follow-up, but that at least helps.
A three-week gap rather than a three-month gap is going to help delivery there. That is also, I think, one of the reasons why, in the context of the recalibration of the national vaccination program, Pfizer is being considered for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities—often more mobile communities.
Extending the COVID-19 Moratorium on Rental Evictions
13 May 2021
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: The Greens have a number of questions that we will be asking in relation to this bill in committee. My colleague the Hon. Tammy Franks has indicated that she will have a number of questions to raise. One of the issues that I intend to raise that I have concerns with in this bill relates to clause 3, and that is the provisions that relate to the moratorium on evictions and on rent increases.
Those provisions were put in place in response to the economic crisis faced by vulnerable South Australians. I welcome the fact that the government did put those protections in place because we know that vulnerable South Australians, particularly those who are renting, have been really hard hit by the pandemic and the ensuing economic crisis. But those provisions will come to an end. I know the government has talked about extending it for a month, up until June, but that really is not good enough, and that is one of the significant concerns the Greens have.
I take this opportunity to read into Hansard some of the stories of renters during this economic crisis, because I think it is very important that people understand the implications of not extending this moratorium. In the committee stage I will be moving to amend the bill so that we extend those protections for another 12 months, up until May next year.
I refer to a news article published on Thursday 15 October on ABC online by the national social affairs reporter, Norman Hermant, and the specialist reporting team's Lucy Kent. This was looking at renters and at the impact of the pandemic on that cohort. The headline reads, 'Renters skipping meals and paying bills late to afford rent during coronavirus pandemic, study finds'. The article goes on to say:
Researchers behind the biggest ever snapshot of Australian renters suspected they would see a big impact from COVID-19 in their survey, but they did not realise how large it would be. 'The first thing that really struck me is the absolute scale of the effect of COVID-19, and how it has affected people's lives', Emma Baker, professor of housing research at the University of Adelaide, said.
More than a third of people were doing things like not being able to pay their bills and skipping meals. Lots of people were affected by things like not being able to pay their rent, but also what came up was this risk of eviction and not knowing what was going to happen.
So people not being able to pay their rent on time, people being in fear of eviction and people living under a cloud of uncertainty. This was a significant study by the Australian Research Council, a survey of 15,000 renters and households in July and August of last year.
This moratorium on rent increases and evictions has thrown those people a temporary lifeline, and the government is talking about pulling the rug out from under them in the middle of the worst economic crisis in a generation, in the middle of this one-in-100-year pandemic. That is something the Greens are very concerned about and I intend to talk further about this in the committee stage.