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Estimates: Questions about new criteria for social housing eligibility

During Parliamentary Budget Estimates on Thursday 4 August 2022, I asked about the government's quiet change to social housing eligibility criteria. 

You can read the answers below or in the official Queensland Parliament Record of Proceedings (Hansard).

Mr BERKMAN: I want to return to the slightly vexed issue of the social housing eligibility criteria. Director-General, section 14 of the Housing Regulation very specifically states in subsection (3)— Social Housing Eligibility Criteria means the document with that name published by the department. Is it the case that at any point in time there is a document that is the social housing eligibility criteria?

Ms O’Connor: Yes.

Mr BERKMAN: Chair, I would like to table an email and a webpage. I have six copies. I think it should be uncontroversial.

CHAIR: As a member of the committee, you are able to table a document. Could you send a copy my way please?

Mr BERKMAN: Yes. There are a couple of copies for the minister and the director-general. Apologies that they are not stapled neatly in bundles.

CHAIR: Can I pause the release of the document titled ‘Maiwar Electorate Office’? It does contain the personal details of a public servant. I am happy for the document titled ‘Check your eligibility’ to be tabled, but I ask chamber attendants to collect the personalised email.

Mr BERKMAN: My apologies. I should have thought before printing out that email from the caucus liaison officer. In general terms, what that email sets out is that I made a request for the social housing eligibility criteria of the minister’s caucus liaison officer. They responded with a web link, which is the second document that is printed out. I am looking to confirm, if I could, Ms O’Connor, that document that you have, that I printed out from the web link, is the social housing eligibility criteria?

Ms O’Connor: Can I just clarify, member, you have printed out this document from the website?

Mr BERKMAN: The web link that was provided by the caucus liaison officer.

Ms O’Connor: That would be the criteria. I have identified it. Yes.

Mr BERKMAN: That is the social housing eligibility criteria. I have one follow-up question and then I would like to pass to the member for South Brisbane. The heading of section 7 in that document is ‘Wellbeing’. Can you advise the committee when those wellbeing criteria became a part of the social housing eligibility criteria?

Ms O’Connor: Member, I think you asked this question at a previous estimates hearing.

Mr BERKMAN: I am only asking again because I am still deeply unclear on when those became a part of the eligibility criteria.

Ms O’Connor: If I can just continue, you have asked this before. We had a look at the issue that you raised before to try to get to the bottom of it. I might pass to my associate director-general,

Mary-Anne Curtis, who can throw some light on the question you are asking about the wellbeing indicators.

Mr BERKMAN: To be very clear, the question is: when did those become a part of the criteria?

Ms Curtis: I am advised, as the director-general has mentioned, that the eligibility criteria for social housing is published on our website. There are a number of criteria that are outlined on the website. There has been a reframe of those criteria. Some of the previous wording from the criteria has been brought in underneath that wellbeing criteria that you are referring to. I will have to confirm the time frame for that because I was not in the department at that time, but that is my understanding.

Mr BERKMAN: First of all, could that question about when those wellbeing criteria were added be taken on notice?

CHAIR: Member for Maiwar, the only person who can take a question on notice is the minister.

Mr BERKMAN: Understood.

CHAIR: Minister, are you prepared to take that question on notice?

Ms ENOCH: I am happy to bring it back to this hearing. I understand that the director-general has been able to find some further information to add to the response.

Ms O’Connor: The advice that we have is that in around October 2019—and neither the associate nor I were in the department at the time—there was further clarification made to the social housing eligibility criteria. To be very clear about what factors were examined, the information we have is that the intake and assessment reform under the Queensland Housing Strategy did reframe, as the associate has said, those criteria to bring into the criteria core eligibility requirements which continued. Two eligibility criteria from the previous assessment process—appropriateness of current housing criteria and the accessibility sustainability criterion—were collapsed and brought together and renamed as ‘wellbeing’ criteria. In terms of your question, member, those things existed before but they were not visible and transparent. They were made visible and transparent under the Queensland Housing Strategy amendments on the system.

CHAIR: We will now move to government questions.

Mr BERKMAN: Chair, I realise this has been a long line of questioning. Could I please just wrap this up?

CHAIR: We will come back to you, member.

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