I want to comment on some of the debate about crime in Hilton and the place of Homeswest tenants in our suburb. Firstly let's acknowledge the good news that reported offences have fallen by 17% this year. Statistics are no comfort to people who have still been the victim of crime or who live next to extremely disruptive neighbours. But let's not push the myth that whole of the suburb is constantly awash with crime and violence, this just distracts us from dealing with the real problems in a constructive way.
What we need are proactive policies that try to get to the causes of crime, anti-social behaviour and substance abuse. Of course individuals who commit or threaten violence against others must bear ultimate responsibility for their acts and the legal consequences, but this will never be enough. What we don't need are irresponsible political stunts like the state government's proposed "stop and search powers", taking away our civil liberties so they can appear "tough on crime" without having to spend any money. Congratulations to our local MPs Adele Carles and Peter Tinley for taking this to task.
All levels of government, including state and council, need to fund projects that try to steer disadvantaged young people away from crime and substance abuse. A good place to start would be at the Hilton PCYC and community hall complex. The federal government has tipped in the money for its redevelopment, isn't it time for the state government to do their share? The PCYC still has to rely on stop-gap donations rather than ongoing funding for its activities. Council could also restore some of the programs it used to have based there and I'll be pushing for this.
Secondly I don't agree that we should be trying to rapidly reduce the stock of Homewest housing in Hilton as some sort of crime prevention measure. This stigmatises the majority of honest hard working Homewest tenants and would subject them to a kind of collective punishment when they've done nothing wrong. They too have networks of friends, social activities and children in local schools. For historical reasons Hilton does have a higher percentage of Homewest houses than most suburbs and the people who've built their homes and lives here have a right to stay. Kicking them out of their homes won't reduce crime.
In fact with home ownership slipping out of reach for more working people we will need to expand social co-operative and public housing across all our suburbs. Here I completely disagree with Minister Buswell when he says that Homewest housing should be seen as "safety net" housing. It actually needs to be expanded to become a respected "mainstream" option for people seeking affordable home security and to put some downward pressure on escalating property prices.