Support for the TAAS Network 2017-2018

Providing support to the Network of Tenants’ Advice and Advocacy Services (TAASs) is a core part of our work. In addition to regular legal back up and training (described elsewhere in this Annual Report), we provide key infrastructure such as the TAAP Portal and Network Meetings.

Tenant Advocates and Tenants’ Union staff at the TAAS Network Meeting in March 2018.
Tenant Advocates and Tenants’ Union staff at the TAAS Network Meeting in March 2018.

Biennial survey by TAASs of TU performance

Over March and April 2018 we conducted our Biennial survey of Tenants’ Advice and Advocacy Services (TAASs) to ascertain their views on our performance.

Overall, our work was rated highly. Most respondents rated us very good to excellent on timeliness, quality, and relevance of legal support. Respondents said the strengths of the Tenants’ Union are:

  • Knowledge and experience
  • Approachability
  • Providing critical information when needed
  • Useful, affective and realistic advice
  • Knowledge of how the law works in both city and regional situations
  • Willing to give time to finding an answer
  • Assist in complex issues

The results from the survey will inform improvements to our operations and the next survey will be conducted in 2020.

TAAP database

The TAAP database has been in operation for just over two years. We continue to analyse the quarterly data from the TAASs and provide them and Fair Trading with a six monthly report on data and trends. This year there has been an overall increase of around 8% in cases and around 17% increase in sessions, at 97,031.

We also continue to log technical problems TAASs experience, as well as requests for amendments and additions to database functionality. We refer problems to the database manager, Community Data Solutions, and also provide them with a list of possible improvements based on priorities from the TAAS network.

Our Strategic Information Technology Officer also continues to provide on-going day-to-day support to individual TAASs.

Common matters across the TAAS Network

TAAS Network Meetings

Three Network Meetings were held in 2017-2018, with Katoomba being the site for the regional meeting. These Meetings continue to be highly valued by TAASs for their mix of updates on legal and tenancy issues, improving working with clients, policy and law reform development and the chance for informal networking.

At the TAAS Regional Network Meeting in 2017
At the TAAS Regional Network Meeting in 2017, Tenant Advocates and Tenants’ Union staff listening to Aunty Lyn Stranger speaking at The Gully – a special Aboriginal Place near Katoomba.

In the area of legal and tenancy matters, topics at the Network Meetings included:

  • Residential Tenancies Act review
  • Public Housing transfers
  • TAAP Community Portal
  • Legal Capacity
  • Discrimination in Land Lease Communities
  • Tenancies and utility issues
  • Skills and tips for examination and cross-examination in NCAT
  • Tribunal matters
  • Anti-Social Behaviour Legislation
  • Retaliatory evictions
  • Bonds – private and social housing
  • Legal case updates
  • Community education

Each year we acknowledge the outstanding work of Tenant Advocates at the Regional Conference. In 2017 the Awards went to:

• David Maloney, Eastern Area Tenants Service
• Ned Cooke, Inner Sydney TAAS
• Naomi Hare, South West Sydney TAAS
• Kylie Pack, Hunter TAAS
• Stephen Fields, Greater Sydney Aboriginal Tenants Service
• James Keech, South West Sydney TAAS
• Linda Grady, New England and Western TAAS
• Jacinta Ryan, South West NSW TAAS

Awards for contribution to policy went to Franya Repolusk, Western Sydney Tenants Service, and to the Greater Sydney Aboriginal Tenants Service.

We conducted a review of the Network Meeting format and trialled improvements during the year.

WESTS 10 year Anniversary at WSCLC
In March 2018 Western Sydney Tenants’ Service (WESTS) celebrated their 10 year anniversary at Western Sydney Community Legal Centre (WSCLC). Pictured left to right: Maria Girdler (WSCLC Director), Robert Mowbray (Tenants’ Union Project Officer – Older Tenants), Franya Repolusk (WESTS Coordinator), and Dr Geoff Lee (Member for Parramatta and Parliamentary Secretary for Western Sydney and Multiculturalism). Robert Mowbray and Julie Foreman were pleased to represent the TU and speak at the event.

TAAP Portal

The TAAP Portal continues to be a valuable resource for Tenant Advocates. This central online portal allows Advocates around the state to engage in discussion forums, access resources, apply for training with the TU and access news relevant to the Network.

Service Visits

While a constant part of our work is responding to specific requests for assistance from TAASs – back-up advice, help with the TAAP database, information when services are engaging with decision-makers and so on – the Tenants’ Union also has a policy of proactively visiting each TAAS at least once every two years. These visits are vital for us to gain feedback on tenancy issues at the local level that feed into our work in developing whole-of-state approaches to policy and law reform. They also give our staff the opportunity to meet with workers who may not have recently attended the TAAS Network Meetings. In the year 2017-2018 we conducted 11 formal service visits, almost double the previous year.

Koori Conference in February 2018
Aboriginal Tenant Advocates, Dtarawarra staff, and Tenants’ Union staff at the Koori Conference in February 2018.

 

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