Staying Connected – Tenant Advocates Conference
Last week, over 100 Tenant Advocates participated in our first online Tenants Advice and Advocacy Services Conference. We explored a range of topics, including changes to tenancy laws, policy reform, and advocate work practice. We looked in detail at the effects COVID-19 has had on tenants lives, the Tribunal’s practices, tenancy law, and mental health.
The TAAS Conference has taken place every year since the inception of the TAAS program in 1994, organised by the Tenants’ Union of NSW. It is a cornerstone of our Network, bringing together Advocates from across the state to discuss, debate, and debrief. When a renter calls for advice or is represented in the Tribunal, they can feel greater confidence knowing that their Advocate is not standing alone. There is a 40 year tradition of tenant advocacy in NSW, with millions of hours of experience coming together to support that tenant.
This year, instead of coming together in person in a regional town as we usually do, the entire conference was online, as a result of COVID-19. We missed the in-person interaction and the organic conversations spilling from a stimulating session over lunch or dinner, however we made up for it with increased numbers of participants and a dynamic, interactive online experience. There was lively group chat throughout the event – allowing for a great flow of information between participants and presenters.
Highlights of the conference included:
- Welcome to Country by Yvonne Weldon
- The COVID-19 evictions moratorium
- Casework under crisis – COVID-19 and bushfires
- NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal Q&A with Pauline Green, NCAT Registry
- Social housing during the crisis
- Domestic violence and tenancy
- Boarding Houses Act review
- Commonwealth Rent Assistance and family payments
- Government Information (Public Access) Act (GIPA) applications
- Tenant Advocate awards
Tenants’ Union organisers would like to thank all the presenters and attendees who participated in this virtual conference. The flexibility and commitment of Tenant Advocates is always an inspiration – this is what made the Conference a great success, and this is what makes our Network a success for renters across NSW everyday.
Every year, the Network of Tenants’ Advice and Advocacy Services provides phone advice to tens of thousands of renters, tenants.org.au has over 1.5 million sessions, and Tenant Advocates organise dozens of community legal education events in their local communities. This year, demand for our services has increased dramatically due to the crises of COVID-19 and the bushfires. Tenant Advocates have met these challenges – working harder than ever to increase services and ensure that tenants across NSW have access to advice and advocacy. Congratulations all.