1004. Hon ALISON XAMON to the minister representing the Minister for Housing:
I refer to the article “Life inside tent city” in The Sunday Times of 20 September and the concerns raised regarding public housing waitlist processes.
(1) Does the minister intend to address concerns that people get sent to the back of the waitlist queue if they do not accept an offer within three days, even if they did not receive the offer because they are homeless?
(2) If yes—
(a) how will these concerns be addressed; and
(b) when will this work take place?
Hon SUE ELLERY replied:
On behalf of the Minister for Environment, I thank the honourable member for some notice of the question.
The Department of Communities is committed to assisting homeless people. Homeless people have complex issues and the Department of Communities works to ensure people have access to appropriate services.
(1) When clients on the public housing waiting list are made an offer of accommodation, the Department of Communities will make every effort to contact the client by telephone advising them of the offer and process and that they have between three and five days to either accept or decline the offer. A formal letter is sent as a follow-up. Extensions to this time frame may be considered on a case-by-case basis. If the client cannot be contacted by phone, an offer letter and brochure is sent to the current address provided. Although clients are responsible for keeping the Department of Communities updated with current contact details, this can be difficult for clients who are transient and often move from place to place. If no response is received within the time frame from the client, before the offer can be withdrawn, the Department of Communities makes three alternative contact attempts. This can be done through contacting the next of kin and known family or friends, local community agencies and/or advocates, or by using other resources such as the White Pages or internet search engines. All three attempts can be made in a single day or spread over no more than a one-week period. If there is no response within the required time frame, the offer is withdrawn and their housing application is withdrawn from the waiting list. When an application is withdrawn, the client will always have the option to appeal the decision. If the client contacts the Department of Communities within 12 months of the application being withdrawn due to no contact, their application may be reinstated with the original listing date.
(2) Not applicable.