It seems like the State Housing Minister has plans to expand the role of the RTA. Last Thursday State Housing Minister Mander was asked several questions at the budget estimates hearings. Expand they might, but the RTA will never be able to do the job the TAASs do – advise tenants.
The following extract from Hansard was a question from LNP representative for Nudgee, Mr Jason Woodforth to the Minister.
Mr WOODFORTH:”Minister, I refer to page 38 with regard to the provision of the tenant advisory services in Queensland. Can you advise how you are ensuring services are delivered in an economically efficient way? “
Mr MANDER:”Yes, and thank you for that question. It is important that we do provide good advisory services for tenants. We need to also make sure that we do it in the most cost-effective way and not duplicate any services. What I have been trying to do there is provide a more strategic approach to this. We have a number of services that we provide to help people stay in their tenancies. I have already mentioned today the Home Assist Secure program. I have mentioned also RentConnect. Currently we are reviewing the RTA and the services it provides.
The RTA services an enormous number of clients. Last year there were over 350,000 client inquiries, with over 400,000 expected this year. Seventy-six per cent of those disputes were resolved where people participated in a conciliation process. RTA staff are trained and qualified in law and conciliation, unlike the staff in some of the other organisations in this space. We made the very hard decision, but I believe the right decision, to stop the funding to TAS because we believe there was a duplication of services and our desire was to have as much money as possible available to put into our housing and homelessness strategies so that we can have more roofs over people’s heads. It is very important to note that, amongst the services that TAS provided, only 10 per cent were related to advocacy. The majority of services are already offered by the RTA and other organisations. Seventy-five per cent of TAS services were over the telephone. We believe that we have made a good decision in this area. We have streamlined the processes and we have more money available now for our housing and homelessness strategies.
Minister, the majority of TAAS work is done on the phone because funding guidelines (rightly) require providers to save the highest level of service delivery for those most in need. TAASs work in the most appropriate and efficient manner with individual clients. And just because the services are on the phone, it doesn’t make them a duplication of the RTA’s work. The average call to the RTA is around 4 minutes, much less than the time it takes a TAAS to deliver a service because TAASs work through the individual circumstances of the tenant, provide the tenant with options to resolve their tenancy matter and provide advice about how to engage in the tenancy dispute resolution processes.
We’ll bring you more budget estimates information soon.