Brij Datt, Specialist Housing Services Coordinator at Cabramatta Community Centre, provides intensive one-on-one support to clients who are experiencing difficulties in accessing housing and facing Tenancy issues.
“If a client comes to me looking for a premises, I try to ascertain what they can afford, then I would look for property along similar lines,” he explains.
I provide the client with a support letter describing their situation and their income, that they know their tenancy rights and obligations and that we are here to help them. Then I call the agent and they tell me when the home inspection is. I might assist the client in taking them there myself, seeing the property, filling out the application, lodging it and following it up with the real estate agent.
Brij also assists clients with public housing appeals, tribunal applications, submissions, representations and advocacy with landlords and real estate agents. Information sessions on rights and obligations under the Residential Tenancies Act is also delivered to community groups in the Fairfield LGA.
Sam Asmar, Housing Support Caseworker at Liverpool Migrant Resource Centre, provides similar forms of support to his clients: helping them to find suitable properties, making referrals to real estate agents, filling in forms, completing condition reports and working with clients to develop their understanding of tenancy rights and responsibilities.
“It’s a lot of daily involvement on a huge range of issues,” he observes. “I don’t make referrals and stop short with that.”
“Part of my job is empowering them, not to do everything for them,” says Amou Job, Housing Project Worker at Anglicare Sydney. “I help clients to know more about the resources available to them. Particularly in Housing NSW, there are a lot of programs that they could use that could benefit them but they are not aware of it.” Amou’s approach includes assisting clients to make use of legislation, policies and appeal processes designed to protect tenants’ rights.
While one-on-one support was often highly effective, providing intensive support with limited resources could be challenging for not-for-profit organisations. “We need funding, because I can’t handle all of the cases by myself,” says Amou.
If we had funding we could employ more workers to do ongoing information sessions in different areas of housing, to empower people, have the time to do one-on-one information sessions. Those are the resources that we are currently lacking.
Sam agrees. “We are getting some positive outcomes but what is needed is a lot and what is available doesn’t match that. It is a question of more resources, more officers, more caseworkers, to be able to reach out to more clients.” This support was particularly important for vulnerable clients, he noted.
People with very, very low capacity, they need at least a person to be physically available with them. We’re not allowed, we don’t have the resources … We can’t allocate a caseworker to every client to be able to accompany them to resolve the regular issues on a daily basis.