Boarding house violations need urgent attention

The appalling conditions of licensed boarding houses in NSW
requires urgent and immediate reform, the Senior Solicitor of the Homeless
Persons Legal Service, Ben Fogarty, said today.

A report from the NSW Ombudsman, released last week,
identified serious human rights violations for people living in licensed
boarding houses in NSW.

The report also identified inadequate support for boarding
house residents’ safety, health and welfare.

‘Significant numbers of homeless people rely on boarding
house accommodation. This is an extremely vulnerable group of people, many of
whom have mental illnesses, physical disabilities and drug and alcohol
problems,’ Mr Fogarty said.

‘The issues identified by the NSW Ombudsman highlight the
need for reform of the licensed boarding house sector.

‘We need better monitoring and regulation to provide
adequate support and protections for residents,’ he said.

Mr Fogarty said attempts to reform the sector have been
painfully slow. He noted the Ombudsman’s findings regarding the failure of the
Department of Family and Community Services – Ageing, Disability and Home Care
(ADHC) to take adequate action to monitor and enforce existing standards.

‘There is an urgent need to establish a system of
registration and improved regulation of boarding houses.

‘There is also an urgent need for the ADHC to take seriously
its responsibilities to monitor boarding houses and ensure compliance with the
statutory requirements,’ Mr Fogarty said.

Mr Fogarty emphasised that any reforms must also address
unlicensed boarding houses, where there are almost no safeguards or minimum

clients often resort to boarding house accommodation, whether licensed or
unlicensed,’ he said.

‘As more
licensed boarding houses close or relinquish their licences, the need for a
comprehensive regulatory framework, which also covers unlicensed boarding
houses, is absolutely essential.

Ombudsman’s report shows that there are serious flaws in the legislative and
monitoring frameworks for boarding houses. As the accommodation capacity of
licensed boarding houses diminishes, more and more people are entering
unlicensed boarding houses where there are even fewer safeguards.

matters need urgent attention,’ Mr Fogarty said.


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