Greens spokesperson for Communities Hon Alison Xamon MLC has today echoed the community sector’s call for a six-month moratorium on tenant evictions involving children or tenants with severe mental illness from public housing in Western Australia following revelations that more than 300 tenants were served with court orders or evicted by bailiffs in the 10 months to April.
“These families are some of the most vulnerable in our community, and currently government departments are working at odds with each other. The Department of Communities has a responsibility to support tenants to maintain stable housing – not contribute to rates of homelessness,” Ms Xamon said.
“Particularly concerning is the impact this has on children, those with mental health issues, family violence survivors and other particularly vulnerable cohorts.
“Let’s remember that many of these people are living on the Newstart allowance – a payment that hasn’t increased in 25 years – and they are being evicted for not paying their rent.
“We know that Newstart is inadequate at the best of times let alone if an unexpected event occurs. These people are one crisis away from going down the path to eviction.
“The machinery of government changes promised better integration – especially between housing and disability, child protection and communities – but we have yet to see this occur.
“Late last year the Auditor General released a report highlighting serious failings in the Department of Communities’ response to vulnerable tenants – it is therefore incredibly disappointing that the situation has actually worsened.
She said the Auditor General’s report showed strikes were issued against tenants despite the existence of complex mental health illness, or family violence or inter-generational dysfunction.
“I welcome the Minister for Housing’s commitment to the new Thrive program which will take an early intervention approach, but we know that new initiatives have substantial lead-in time – meanwhile a reported 500 evictions occur each year.
We need to listen to the Auditor General and the community agencies working on the front line who see the impacts of the Department’s failings first hand. A moratorium on evictions where children or a person with a severe mental illness is involved is an essential measure given the circumstances.