April 16 Tenant Advice and Advocacy Service
Mr JUDGE: My question is to the Minister for Housing and Public Works regarding the imminent loss of the Tenant Advice and Advocacy Service. Does the minister foresee any adverse consequences associated with the Newman government’s decision to cease funding to this service in terms of increasing the risk of homelessness and placing additional pressure on the already strained public housing system? If so, what plans are being put in place to address these critical issues?
Mr MANDER: I thank the honourable member for his question. Last year, this government had to make some very tough decisions because of the debt that we inherited from the previous government. One of those tough decisions was to stop funding for the TAAS services that were operating throughout this state. But we did it for other reasons as well. Advocacy and advice to tenants is offered through a whole range of different avenues. Of course, the greatest way it is offered is through the Residential Tenancies Authority—the RTA—and also through other community organisations. Just last week I heard a quote from the Salvation Army in Townsville, which talked about the fact that quite a few non-government organisations supply advocacy for people to get into housing and that `as far as advocacy groups go, it doesn’t seem to be a shortage problem in Townsville’. I am hearing stories like that right across the state.
A review a couple of years ago by the previous government of the TAAS services brought out a couple of very relevant points. When we look at their performance report produced by the department, we see that 60 per cent of the core service outcomes were reported as unresolved, or unknown. A further 27 per cent were reported as info only. This is a gold plated service where 27 per cent of its business is duplicating the role of the RTA. In fact, the same report reveals that three quarters of TAAS services are provided over the phone and in writing, not face to face.
This government believes that those services are important, but they are being offered at the moment in ways that are far more cost effective. We are not into wasting money. We want to use that money for—and this pun is intentional—concrete solutions. We will put roofs over people’s heads with the money that we will save through that money that currently goes to TAAS services. I am looking forward to announcing some of those new arrangements in the next few weeks, which will show very practical solutions to helping the 20,000 people in Queensland at the moment who regard themselves as homeless.
Unlike the opposition, which is very good at scaremongering—going out and frightening the living daylights out of people rather than providing practical solutions—we will not fall into that trap. I am looking forward to talking about those solutions and helping those people put a roof over their heads, which is everybody’s right in this state.