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NSW Tightens Controls on Boarding Houses

10 May 2012 at 1:12 pm
Lina Caneva
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.

Lina Caneva | 10 May 2012 at 1:12 pm


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.

Lina Caneva  |  Editor  |  @ProBonoNews

Lina Caneva has been a journalist for more than 35 years. She was the editor of Pro Bono Australia News from when it was founded in 2000 until 2018.

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  • Sue Steedman Sue Steedman says:

    This reform is long overdue. For too long unscrupulous operators have provided dirty, dangerous, third-world boarding house accommodation for some of the most vulnerable people in our society. This is ‘the norm’ in the boarding houses in the Marrickville LGA. I wonder though how successful regulators will be in enforcing standards, since many of the buildings are simply leased, partitioned off and then sub-let to boarders. There is no (current) legislative protection for boarders and lodgers: they have fewer rights than one who is staying at a hotel overnight. They can be evicted at extremely short notice (or whilst they are absent) and there seems to be no enforcement of laws pertaining to fire exits for example. We will all be watching and hoping that the new ‘policing’ policy has some teeth.

  • Anonymous Anonymous says:

    Since the Richmond Report in the late 1980’s the mentally ill were put out into society, there should be ‘special’ run government housing for the vulnerable. We have Housing Commission, they ran a programme for housing women, it was called The Bede Miles Group. Most of these people have had to fend for themselves.

    All the boarding houses I know of have uni students, language students and a mix of elderly with family support, those who have fallen on hard timese who need a leg up in the world. They are clean and inspected by council for Health and Fire Regulations annually. To call this type of accommodation a boarding house is very WRONG, it is not far removed from the old “mental asylum” sadly. Then of course there is the pligh of the homeless. This is a good example of Government casting blame, interfering with a mostly good industry.

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