Monday, August 3, 2015

Stepping up to end homelessness - Tenants Advice and Advocacy Services

Welcome to Homelessness Prevention Week 2015. This year, Homelessness Australia asks "How will you step up to end homelessness in Australia?"

Stepping up to end homelessness sounds pretty daunting, but there are many ways to contribute to this cause. In fact, Homelessness Australia has already suggested a few:
  • raise community awareness and understanding of homelessness
  • increase community connection for those who are homeless, or at risk of homelessness
  • recognise the individuals and groups who help those experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness
  • increase community understanding and connections for those working in the homelessness sector
We like to think we're doing a little of these things each time we cross paths on the Brown Couch - whether we're talking about how our state and federal tax settings contribute to an unaffordable private rental market, banging on about the need to change renting laws for the better, or drawing attention to the good things our friends and colleagues in the community sector do.

Today we'd like to focus on the statewide network of Tenants' Advice and Advocacy Services. We've know we talk about them a lot, but they're important, and it's worth revisiting some of those discussions. In June 2013 we wrote about their quest to save once million tenancies, where we talked about the volume of the work they do, its sometimes adversarial nature (good if you're a tenant who needs help!), and the fact that a large part of their work is driven by landlords trying to end tenancies.
The most common [Tribunal] applications were in fact made by landlords - overwhelmingly, for the termination of a tenancy. In the Tenancy Division, there were 19,373 of these. In the Social Housing Division, there were 9,536. That's a total of 28,909 - almost as many contacts as TAASs had over the year!
And in another discussion we put some numbers on how Tenants' Advice and Advocacy Services prevent homelessness.
To investigate the TAASs' role in preventing homelessness, a six-month project was undertaken by 15 TAAP direct services. The data they recorded highlights the positive impact of support provided to clients whose tenancies were vulnerable.
During the course of the project, 516 tenancies at risk of termination were identified. As a result of the advice and advocacy provided by skilled TAAS workers, homelessness was averted in 424 cases (82.2 per cent).
It's great work, and it should be celebrated.

But it's also getting harder for the Tenants' Advice and Advocacy Services to do this work, because they have not seen a real increase in funding since 2002. Since then, the number of households living in rented accommodation has gone up by 25% in New South Wales. And because these services are funded by the interest on tenants' bonds, there is more than enough money available to invest more in these services.

So... one way you can step up to end homelessness is by stepping up to support Tenants' Advice and Advocacy Services. And you can do that by joining the campaign to get More Bang for Your Bond.

Visit the campaign on Facebook and Twitter, check out the website, and sign the online petition. Grab some of the More Bang for Your Bond postcards* and help build support!

*Let us know where you are and we'll send you as many as you'd like.


  1. Unfortunately there is a real fine line to walk and cross to bare with this. "contact your tenancy and advocacy service'....Community Legal Services = FACS. Tenancy and Advocacy services = FACS and "funded by NCAT" that's what the luck comes down to -THEIR draw. Hatred is a prerequisite. Twice I have been severely duped by these systems and forced into total homelessness. Now and currently under attack by Housings crimes and corruptions - YET AGAIN; 2006 - 2015. There is NO separation within the systems; NCAT - Magistrate (a director of NCAT) to Supreme Court - Justice is a Director...and then they skite about having contacts with the Federal Court and High Court = there goes any chance of a highly ethical impartial and unbiased appeal. For far too long these systems have gone unquestioned. It is time for a Royal Commission into the entire process. From Applications to Administration to NCAT etc etc. Maybe then there will be less homeless and sustainability will be achievable.

    1. Hi FJ,
      Sorry to read your experiences in the courts have not been great.
      But we want to be clear: Community Legal Centres and Tenants' Advice and Advocacy Services are completely independent of government agencies such as FACS, and judicial and quasi-judicial bodies such as NCAT and the courts.


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