Spreading social housing across a city or town, rather than having most in one suburb, will reduce social issues in Queensland, a Cairns MP says.
A Cairns suburb named in a secret report into youth sexual abuse and domestic violence has its problems but isn’t a ghetto, its resident MP says.
Cairns West and the Cape York indigenous community of Aurukun are at the centre of a Newman government report which hasn’t been released at the request of its author.
State member for Cairns Gavin King, who has seen the report, says the two far northern Queensland areas were chosen as case studies, not because they are the worst affected.
“None of the issues in the report are new or surprising and they’re certainly not isolated to those two areas,” he told AAP.
“There are significant social issues (in Cairns West) absolutely, but it’s not 100 per cent of the people who live there.
“It’s absolutely not a ghetto.”
Mr King, who has lived in the suburb with his family since 2011, says it is a safe, friendly and culturally diverse community.
However, he says serious issues – including high unemployment, welfare dependency, above-average crime rates and domestic violence – have plagued the area for decades.
The main contributor, he says, is high density social housing which has led to a large number of low socio-economic families living in the one spot.
Up to 80 per cent of homes in the suburb are public housing – the highest concentration in any regional Queensland city.
Mr King says the government is in discussions over how to address this issue, including eventually moving some residents to other areas and selling off some public houses.
“We do need to change the physical make-up, environmental make-up, of that area because it absolutely contributes to the problems faced in that community,” he said.
The government decided not to release the report as author Professor Stephen Smallbone said doing so would “demonise” Cairns West and Aurukun, Mr King says.
Programs have already been implemented to address some issues raised in the report, including the Safer Streets scheme in Cairns aimed at early intervention.