Striking Out Against Public Housing

Millers Point my homeRecently, State Government introduced what is formerly known as the Residential Tenancies and Housing Legislation (Public Housing Antisocial Behaviour) Bill 2015, otherwise known as the 3 Strikes Bill. It is a constant struggle to ensure that government bodies treat public housing residents with decency and fairness. This bill is one of the more devastating that State Government has released for public housing tenants, and completely undermines legal and fair process and representation.

Under this bill, housing landlords will be authorised to issue tenants with strike notices for suspected antisocial behaviour. If the tenant does not respond within a negligible 14 day time frame, they are assumed guilty and are restricted from taking the matter further. This is despite any number of possible reasons for being unable to represent oneself within this small window of time, including domestic violence issues, English-speaking ability, literacy levels, or simply work commitments. It is proposed that tenants will be evicted after 3 received strikes, or 1 strike for serious matters. However it is the dubious process that remains problematic, for example, anonymous neighbourhood statements will be deemed a legitimate reason to deliver a strike warning.

Nobody likes to live around antisocial behaviour, and it is always positive to see an increase in neighbourhood cooperation amongst communities, whether in public housing or the private market. However this bill is a draconian and punitive approach, which will target vulnerable people and surely cause the eviction of victims rather than perpetrators (including domestic violence victims). This is not the way to improve public housing. We must instead, align our funding with services that bind communities, and assist our most vulnerable and marginalised citizens by improving access to those services. It is for this reason, that I have written a formal letter to the Minister for Housing, expressing my strong objection to this bill. In Council, I also seconded the Notice of Motion for Council to request State Parliament to withdraw the bill.

I look forward to hearing a response from the Minister.

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