Dob-in line a distraction from housing pressures

Posted on 22 January 2013 by David Mallard

Encouraging people to “dob in” unauthorised public housing occupants is an ineffective strategy that demonises tenants while ignoring the real problems facing our public housing system, warns Greens MP and housing spokesperson Jan Barham.

“The NSW Government’s announcement of an amnesty to declare unauthorised occupants in public housing is supported but calling for a ‘dob in’ campaign is unfair and disrespectful,” Ms Barham said.

“The evidence has shown the failure of ‘dob in’ strategies. The experience with the Federal tip-off line for Centrelink fraud shows that we can expect a very small number of calls to be acted upon. An anonymous dob-in system can become bogged down with complaints that are often incorrect, unsubstantiated and in some cases vexatious,” Ms Barham said.

Ms Barham said that although ensuring accurate occupancy information and rental assessments are reasonable goals, the focus on “rorters” risked demonising public housing tenants. “An amnesty to encourage tenants to provide Housing NSW with accurate information about the occupants of their homes is a useful approach, but the immediate call for people to report anyone they suspect of rorting the system implies fraud is a widespread problem among public housing tenants,” Ms Barham said.

“I’m concerned that the public focus on fraud is a distraction from the major challenges the Government needs to tackle in providing housing support. There is a severe shortage of social housing stock across the state, thousands of people remain on waiting lists and most of the available allocations to public housing go to those with emergency or special needs.

“There is an ongoing need to expand the resources available to support people who are struggling to put a roof over their head. With federal cuts to single parent and other payments from their already low baseline, the pressure is only going to increase, and encouraging what might be many groundless accusations against existing tenants won’t solve the housing crisis in New South Wales,” Ms Barham said.

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

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