NSW Tightens Controls on Boarding Houses
10 May 2012 at 1:12 pm
The NSW Government has announced stronger controls and penalty regimes under reforms
to boarding house operations that are often home to some of the most vulnerable residents.
The Minister for Disability Services, Andrew Constance, said proposed changes included penalties of up to $11,000 for individuals or $22,000 for corporations for non-compliance with regulations, and a requirement for all staff be subjected to periodic criminal record checks.
Last month Homeless Persons’ Legal Service (HPLS) warned that the NSW Government’s failure to enforce boarding house standards was placing residents’ lives at risk.
HPLS policy officer, Louis Schetzer urged the NSW Department of Family and Community Services – Ageing, Disability and Home Care (ADHC) to take urgent action to address the appalling conditions that exist in many of the state’s boarding houses.
“The need for action is highlighted by the coronial inquest into the deaths of Shaneen Batts, Ilona Takacs, Dorothy Hudson, Ian Birks, Donald MacKellar and Mohammed Ramzan. All of these people died between 2009 and 2010 at a boarding house in Marrickville,” said Schetzer.
“Significant numbers of homeless people rely on boarding house accommodation and many of these people have physical and intellectual disabilities, or a mental illness.
The Minister for Disability Services says occupancy rights will be established and government workers will have enhanced powers to enter premises to monitor the welfare of residents.
Licensed boarding houses, which cater to people with mental and intellectual disabilities, will be required to register with NSW Fair Trading.