Joint statement: People who rent in public and community housing need safe, secure homes




    We are Tenant Advice and Advocacy Services and community legal centres across NSW, who provide advice and advocacy to renters in public (including Aboriginal Housing Office homes) and community housing. 

    Everyday we help thousands of people whose lives and health is directly affected by the state of their public housing and community housing homes. For some of our services we provide direct support for people to try and get fundamental repairs – to make sure their houses are safe and habitable – a basic right under the law.

    For many other services we support clients with complex legal issues where it is common that poorly repaired and maintained community and public housing is a backdrop to their lives. Our clients are women who have escaped domestic violence, people suffering from chronic illnesses and disability and people who are struggling to make ends meet. The poor state of their housing impacts on their wellbeing.

    Recent tragic events have put a spotlight on long understood and acknowledged critical failures in the current system, underscoring the need for additional resourcing and action to ensure all people in public and community housing live in safe and healthy homes.

    The explosion at Waikanda Crescent in Whalan, resulting in the death of Mhey Yumol Jasmin and injuries to several others, is heartbreaking. Our deepest condolences go out to Mhey Yumol's family, the injured residents, and the affected local community. 

    This tragedy, suspected to be caused by a gas leak, has raised serious concerns. We acknowledge and appreciate the urgency with which the NSW government has moved to support impacted residents and community members, and to investigate the cause further. 

    The incident has focused attention on a historic and ongoing pattern of neglect in public and community housing. All renters should be able to raise maintenance concerns and have those concerns promptly attended to. This requires all providers, whether public or private, to be reliable and accountable in their approach to building safety and maintenance. 

    Sadly, the state of public and community housing is a story of neglect. Our clients have to deal with issues such as chronic and severe mould, sewerage issues, water leaks and problems with essential services without speedy resolution. Renters in public and community housing report they fear retaliation or poor treatment when seeking repairs. They often face prolonged waits for essential repairs, and receive only temporary fixes that fail to address the root problems. Even when they take legal action the work is not undertaken as ordered. This is exhausting for people who already are juggling many other things in their lives.

    Safe, secure housing is a human right, and poor housing affects all aspects of a persons’ life. The current system is broken.

    We welcome the recognition and promise from Minister Jackson that Homes NSW must do better. Keeping this promise requires investment and a commitment to the public benefit of a healthy public and community housing sector.

    In the NSW State Budget to be released on 18 June, and ongoing the NSW Government must commit the resources and sustained focus required to ensure this is possible.


    • Leo Patterson Ross, CEO, Tenants’ Union of NSW
    • Camilla Pandolfini, CEO, Redfern Legal Centre, including Inner Sydney Tenants’ Advice & Advocacy Service
    • Justin Abi Daher, Principal Solicitor, Marrickville Legal Centre, including Inner West Tenants' Advice & Advocacy Service and Northern Sydney Area Tenants' Service
    • Nicole Grgas, Coordinator, Hunter Tenants’ Advice & Advocacy Service
    • Emma McGuire, Team Leader, Mid Coast Tenants’ Advice & Advocacy Service
    • Brett Webb, Northern NSW Aboriginal Tenants' Advice & Advocacy Service
    • Karly Warner, CEO, Aboriginal Legal Service, including Greater Sydney Aboriginal Tenants' Service
    • Naomi Hare, Coordinator, South West Sydney Tenants’ Advice & Advocacy Service
    • Louise Farroway, Coordinator, Illawarra Legal Centre, including Illawarra & South Coast Tenants’ Advice & Advocacy Service
    • Anna Azcuna, Coordinator, Southern Sydney Tenants’ Advice & Advocacy Service
    • Arlia Fleming, CEO, Central Tablelands & Blue Mountains Community Legal Centre, inc Blue Mountains Tenants’ Advice & Advocacy Service
    • Brendan Ross, Acting Centre Manager, Northern Rivers Tenants’ Advice & Advocacy Service
    • Martin Barker, Coordinator, Eastern Area Tenants’ Advice Service
    • KerryAnn Pankhurst, Service Manager, New England & Western Tenants Advice and Advocacy Service Inc.
    • Benjamin Read, Acting Coordinator, Central Coast Tenants’ Advice & Advocacy Service
    • Emma Golledge, Director, Kingsford Legal Centre
    • Katherine Boyle, CEO, Welfare Rights Centre
    • Sarah Marland, Executive Director, Community Legal Centres NSW
    • Mark Patrick, Principal Solicitor, Australian Centre for Disability Law
    • John Hallam, CEO, Western Sydney Community Legal Centre
    • Katrina Ironside, CEO, Women’s Legal Service NSW
    • Katie Green, Managing Principal Solicitor, Inner City Legal Centre
    • Emma Wood, Centre Manager, Shoalcoast Community Legal Centre
    • Jessica Raffal, Managing Lawyer, International Social Service Australia
    • Bronwyn Ambrogetti, Managing Solicitor, Hunter Community Legal Centre
    • Jonathon Hunyor, CEO, Public Interest Advocacy Centre
    • Jackie Mead, Chief Executive Officer, knowmore legal service
    • Tim Leach, CEO, Community Legal Centres Australia