It has been an extended struggle to keep independent advice services available to Queensland tenants. We need your help before this round of funding runs out on December 31, 2013.
Here’s a quick history of what’s been going on:
- On July 24, 2012, all 23 services funded under the Tenant Advice and Advocacy Service (TAASQ) program were informed by the State government that the program would be discontinued. Three months’ notice of funding withdrawal was provided.
- That announcement was followed by an outpouring of concern from tenants, their supporters, community services, and the public calling for the State government to change their mind.
- As October 31 approached and no solution had been found, TAASQs began to plan for their closure, incredulous that these important services were to be lost.
- On October 3, the Commonwealth government announced that it would step in to provide $3.3M of emergency funding for TAASQ services across the state extending from 1 November to June 30, 2013. With a new Partnership Agreement on Homelessness (NPAH) due to be signed between the State and Federal government, the Commonwealth also announced a requirement for tenant advice and advocacy services to be supported as part of that agreement.
- The Queensland government agreed to administer the Commonwealth funds.
- During the term of that funding, many representations were made to the Queensland government asking them to reconsider their position on tenant advice services and re-apply a small portion of tenant bond interest to that purpose. Thousands of letters and postcards were sent and extensive community concern was continually expressed over the situation.
- Despite the community outcry, the State government stated that it was not required to fund tenant advice and advocacy under the NPAH. The Commonwealth held a contrary view.
- Whilst it appears the State government came close on several occasions to announcing a renewed program of tenant advice, this did not occur and as June deadline approached, services again needed to plan for a potential closure. Tenants worried about the potential loss of access to free expert advice, advocacy support, and representation.
- In early June, with no movement from the State, the Commonwealth government announced that it would extend its emergency funding package for a further six months, to December 31, 2013. The Commonwealth offered $2.5M to the State government in exchange for their consideration of a long term solution.
- Services were overjoyed, but that joy was cut short when the State government refused to administer the new funding offer from the Commonwealth government.
- Soon after, the Commonwealth announced that it would channel the funds to the sector of tenant advice services through the peak body, the Tenants’ Union of Queensland, who it was able to directly fund.
- The TUQ, also previously TAASQ funded, is the peak body to local tenant advice services, providing training, support, and back up advice. It has now become the program manager as well.
- December 31, 2013 is approaching fast and we need your help again. The system doesn’t work if one party doesn’t have access to independent expert advice – please ask your local MP, State Housing Minister, Treasurer and Premier to commit a small portion of the interest on tenants’ own bonds to independent tenant advice services. And ask the Federal government to keep funding our services and help to broker a long term resolution with the State government.
And here’s some more ways you can help – thanks!