Have Your Say on Boarding House reform!

The NSW Greens spokesperson for Housing, Jan Barham MLC is calling on the public to lodge submissions as part of the Government’s consultation on reforms to the Boarding House Sector. In June, the Government released an Exposure Draft Boarding Houses Bill 2012 and a position paper.

The Bill proposes a new legislative framework that aims to protect vulnerable residents and comes after calls from the NSW Greens and advocacy groups for reform to the sector. The situation with boarding houses that accommodate people with disabilities is desperately in need of reform as there is a history of abuses. The lack of a state wide register of premises has made it difficult to monitor the performance of the premises and this is addressed in the new proposal.

A new scheme of occupancy rights for residents is provided and an increase in penalties for offences, criminal checks for staff and provisions that allow authorised advocates to enter premises.

Jan Barham welcomes the changes proposed by the Government but has raised some areas that could be strengthened.

“This Exposure Bill comes after numerous distressing reports from the Ombudsman about abuses and lack of regulation and oversight in the Boarding House Sector” said Jan Barham.

“The changes being proposed will tighten up the processes that oversee how the sector is run and will lead to improvements in the quality of life and rights for those in our community that live in boarding houses. There is however a need to strengthen the requirements for in the proposal to ensure coverage of premises that provide occupancy agreements and that greater oversight by government agencies to protect the rights of residents, particularly those with disabilities”

“The rights of vulnerable members of society are able to strengthened with this new legislation. It’s vital that the community respond to the draft document and make submissions to ensure the protection and well being of those who live in boarding houses is improved and the failings of the past are not repeated”

The Exposure Draft is on public exhibition with submissions to be lodged by Friday August 10th. Jan Barham has prepared a briefing paper and a submission guide and is encouraging the community to have their say.

• Briefing Paper and Submission Guide: http://www.janbarham.org.au/?p=1057

• Exposure Draft Boarding Houses Bill 2012:  http://www.ncoss.org.au/resources/120704-Exposure-Draft-Boarding-House-Bill-2012.pdf

For Further Comment, please contact Jan Barham directly on 0407 065 061