Program support for TAAP Services 2015-2016

TU plays a key role in organisational support of the TAAS and facilitates liaison between the services. This enables individual, small TAAS to benefit from the efficiencies and effectiveness of a large combined network while at the same time providing the benefits of being local, small and flexible.

Liaison on behalf of Tenancy Advice and Advocacy Services (TAAS) operations with Fair Trading

The TU continues to liaise with Fair Trading on funding processes and guidelines. We have been a point of consultation and negotiation regarding the introduction of the new reporting & case management system known as the TAAP Database.

We met with Fair Trading and drafted submissions on behalf of TAAP for a long overdue funding increase. TAAS have not had a real funding increase since 2002 and yet during the last 13 years the number of tenancies have increased by 37 percent. TAAP struggle to meet demand and currently, we estimate the TAAP services turn away 1 in 3 people seeking assistance.

In November 2015 we presented a petition for increased funding at an event at Parliament House attended by a dozen MPs from across the political spectrum, plus many other advisers and representatives from legal, community and housing peak organisations. Speeches of support were given by Dr. Geoff Lee MP (Member for Parramatta, Liberal Party of Australia), David Mehan MP (Member for The Entrance, Australian Labor Party), and Jenny Leong MP (Member for Newtown, Australian Greens).

However it was a tenant, Milly, who unquestionably stole the show. She spoke about her experiences as a tenant and the importance of her local Tenants Advice and Advocacy Service. Her speech hit home perfectly on the struggles of so many tenants and highlighted important areas for law reform.

The TAAP Program was successfully funded for another 3 years, albeit without a real increase, from July 1 2016. We thank Fair Trading for its ongoing support.

TAAP database

The new database was launched in October 2015. We continue to work closely with Community Data Solutions to address technical problems and refine the data values and fields. We conducted two online training sessions on the database for new TAAS workers and as refreshers to other staff. Our Strategic Information Technology Officer continues to provide support to individual TAASs. Our work in this area is guided by a sub-committee with representatives from TAAP services.

TAAS Network meetings assist services to better support tenants

We convened three meetings of the TAAS network, with Wollongong the setting for this year’s Regional meeting in October. Consistent with our draft Reconciliation Action Plan city network meetings are held at the National Centre for Indigenous Excellence in Redfern.

The meetings continue to be well attended with positive evaluations. Attendees identify the benefits of the meetings to be:

  • Networking opportunities
  • Being kept up-to-date on legal and
  • tenancy issues
  • Remaining inspired

The agenda for each meeting is developed in consultation via a sub-committee of TAAP
network members, who we thank for their support. Topics this year included:

  • Koori casework
  • Aboriginal Housing
  • NCAT set aside and appeal procedures
  • The Residential (Land Lease) Communities Act 2013
  • Social Housing Policy

Invited speakers included:

  • Aunty Jenny Monroe presenting the Aboriginal Tent Embassy perspective on developments in The Block in Redfern.
  • Micky Mundine, CEO Aboriginal Housing Company presenting the Housing Company perspective on developments in The Block
  • in Redfern.
  • Michael Snape and Ruby Steele on Working with Legal Aid.
  • Jean O’Brien on TAASs working with the Department of Correctional Services
  • Julie Mitchell, Coordinator, Homeless Hub Wollongong on Hope for Homeless
  • Penny Carr, Coordinator Tenants’ Queensland on the new model for tenancy services in Queensland,
  • Kim Rosser, Senior Member NSW NCAT on Set Asides in the eyes of NCAT.

Service Visits

Service visits are a vital part of our work providing opportunities for the Tenants’ Union to forge strategic relationships, exchange information, learn from the direct experience of advocates and provide support and advice. We have a policy of proactively visiting each TAAS once every two years and we also visit them in response to requests for specific on-site support. We visited 12 TAASs in 2015 - 2016.

Biennial Survey

We conducted our second biennial survey of TAASs assessing the TU’s performance in its resource and support role. Overall, TAASs report high levels of satisfaction across the areas of TU work most relevant to them. This is true for timeliness, quality, relevance and their relationships with TU staff.

TU’s legal support and resources are the areas most accessed by respondents. Training provided by TU and its coordinating of network meetings of the TAASs are also valued highly. Respondents generally had less frequent contact with the policy work of the TU, but spoke highly of the policy staff and their work.

Contact with the information technology support from TU was also rare, a result which again is to be expected as most TAASs would access support from a local service for these needs. However, again, TAASs spoke highly of TU staff’s support when it was accessed. Recommendations for improvement identified in the survey are being implemented.

 

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