You are here

State Development, Construction and Housing – Constituent Issues

Cassy O'Connor MP

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Tuesday, 7 June 2022

Tags: Housing Crisis

Ms O'CONNOR - Thank you, Chair. As you well know Minister, there is a human face to the housing portfolio and in some ways, it is the most challenging and rewarding part of the work. Lisa Wilson has given us permission to use her name in sharing this story and she has asked us to share this photo of her. Lisa and her son live in housing managed by Housing Tasmania in North Hobart. She uses an electric wheelchair and her apartment is not accessible. She requires help from her son or a support worker to go between rooms and outside. Lisa has been waiting for a transfer for six months. She is a victim/survivor of abuse and family violence and due to one tenant on the site, she and her son feel very unsafe in their home. I am sure you agree that it is totally unacceptable for Lisa to fear going outside.

We understand Lisa has been in touch with your office, as she has ours, about her urgent need to be transferred. We also understand Lisa has been told by Housing Tasmania her accessibility requirements, including electric doors and ramps for her wheelchair, are part of the reason she can expect to wait a significant period of time for her transfer. She has asked me to say, 'Minister, can you hear my call and send me a miracle?' Minister, what can we do for Lisa Wilson?

Mr BARNETT - As you know, we don't normally discuss private cases. However, it's a very difficult situation that Lisa is in, and I know that the Department is working through this matter. Yes, it's been brought to my attention in my office and to the Department's attention. I understand there is some wait for a transfer to a modified property that perhaps is more accommodating. I will check if the Department wishes to add to that, noting that it is a challenging and difficult situation and I acknowledge that. These concerns are raised with me in my office on a regular basis and of course the Department deals with it on a daily basis and we will do everything we can. The advice I have from the Department is that we are working through this particular matter very carefully and we are absolutely sympathetic to Lisa's concerns.

Ms O'CONNOR - Thank you very much for your answer.

Mr BARNETT - I appreciate that but I would like the Deputy Secretary to respond if there is further to add.

Mr WHITE - All I can say is that the tenancy staff at Housing are in pretty continual contact with Ms Wilson. We understand her issues. We are trying our best to find something suitable for her and I won't say anything more apart from that.

Ms O'CONNOR - I hope you agree it is disappointing that a tenant is told that because of their disability it's going to be harder for them to be found an affordable home.

Peta Andrew has also given us permission today in speaking about her case. She is a low-income person who has been on the social housing waitlist for seven years and she has been considered priority at the highest level of need since August 2020, nearly two years ago. She currently lives in private rental accommodation with her son. In the seven years she has waited on the housing register she has been priced out of the private rental market. Recently their rent was set to increase, now more than $1000 a fortnight, which they can't afford and they are facing homelessness. Minister, do you agree seven years is an acceptable wait time for someone needing to access social housing, and will your office engage with Peta to support her to find suitable housing?

Mr BARNETT - As I shared earlier, we don't normally deal with private individuals on a matter like this in this type of forum. But I would like to add to that -

Ms O'CONNOR - She has asked us to raise her case.

Mr BARNETT - to absolutely emphasise and sympathise with those concerns. For those people looking for housing and are homeless or vulnerable, of course for them it is a massive challenge, and a crisis.

From me, on behalf of the Government, that is why we want to do everything we can to support those people and families in need. That's why, on behalf of the people of Tasmania, we have the most ambitious plan in Tasmanian history to address the housing needs of Tasmanians, and to build the 10 000 homes by 2023 to support people in need.

Ms O'CONNOR - Minister, I know you are totally sincere about that. I'm glad that you have the energy to invest in this really significant portfolio. But the end of my question was, will your office engage with Peta Andrew to support her to find suitable housing? We have tried, and to no avail. I am appealing directly to you.

Mr BARNETT - Thank you, and the answer is yes, I am happy to respond and confirm that if you provide the relevant details to my office and to my department, I will be more than happy to follow up.