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As residents are slowly moved out of public housing, the instances of crime on those who remain skyrockets. The government knows this, but has chosen to do nothing.
Over the past week, the ACT’s Woden region has seen serious instances of senseless vandalism occur, with multiple car windows being smashed in at the Woden Community Centre and Koomarri, a disability support provider. More than six cars seriously vandalised over two incidents in the space of one week, causing thousands of dollars in damage. On top of this, there was also a major arson at the nearby Woden Athletics Park, causing approximately $200,000 worth of damage.
All of the above locations targeted are within the public housing complex on the corner of Hindmarsh and Melrose Drive in Woden.
Over the past few weeks, there have been multiple break-ins at Strathgordon Court. I have witnessed some of these myself and been told of others by my neighbours – more on that below.
The likely reason this is occurring, as a number of residents have speculated, is that ACT Housing started its relocation process of moving tenants out of Strathgordon Court, in preparation for its demolition later this year. This has also occurred at other complexes around Canberra as tenants were relocated, with crime rising in the final days of these housing complexes.
I am one of the tenants being relocated out of Strathgordon Court. I have had two attempted break-ins to my vehicle, before I started parking it well away from my residence.
I have also interrupted someone drilling out the lock of my downstairs neighbour a couple of weeks ago, and another apartment on the same landing was broken into and vandalised less than 48 hours after it was vacated. That is just in my stairwell of six apartments.
The ACT Government is surely aware of this short-term crime spike. The complex is populated by faces I don’t know, a mass of darting eyes and hands I can’t see.
The same is going on across the complex. I know of other neighbours here who have also had someone attempt to break into their place recently, and have seen other recently vacated apartments that have also been broken into within days of being vacated.
Woden is seeing a serious spike in vandalism, and I seriously doubt that the incidents at Strathgordon Court are not connected. This view is shared by Canberra Liberals MLA Mark Parton, who agreed when I pointed out to him the possible connection between the events. He believes that it is highly unlikely to just be coincidence, considering how closely located to each other.
I had previously written to Mark Parton as the Opposition Housing Minister, as well as to Caroline Le Couteur, my local Greens MLA and Chris Steel, my local Labor MLA only a few weeks ago on the 20th of September about the serious spike in incidents at Strathgordon Court.
Caroline and Mark then presented a joint letter to Yvette Berry as Minister for Housing to ask the Government to do something about the security of residents at Strathgordon Court while the tenants are relocated.
At the time of writing, the Minister has not responded to Mark and Caroline’s letter, and there has been no change at Strathgordon Court. Cars are broken into, vacant apartments are being vandalised and those who remain are warding off break-in attempts.
The ACT Government is surely aware of this short-term crime spike, but has chosen to turn a blind eye. With little media coverage around this, there has been no compulsion on the Government to act, other than a moral one, which has been seemingly ignored.
As a tenant living amongst all this right now, it is frankly terrifying. The apartment complex is populated by faces I don’t know, a mass of darting eyes and hands I can’t see.
Are we not residents, or if not, are we not a big enough problem to bother solving?
That is a question I would very much like an answer to.