Approach to the relocations process
Each tenant in Millers Point will be individually visited and notified that a relocations officer has been assigned to them and that an appointment will be made to discuss their relocation needs.
Specialist relocations officers are experienced staff members from the Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) who have experience of successfully relocating tenants, including older tenants and tenants with special needs. They are senior client services staff who have been selected for the role.
Initially, each tenant will be visited to undertake a housing needs assessment. This is a detailed assessment which involves understanding the individual needs of each member of the household and discussing their preferences for relocation in terms of location and the type of housing they need. Any special needs are identified in detail, including any medical needs, mental health issues, disabilities and other complex needs.
The specialist relocations officer will liaise with the family and friends of tenants if they wish for this and will also work with support services. The same officer works with the tenant throughout the process of relocation. The officer draws up a relocations plan for the tenant and their family which outlines the desired location and type of housing they will need, any adaptations they will need to their future property because of disability and the desired timing of their relocation, taking account of factors such as school term times and the availability of alternative accommodation.
The relocations plan outlines the financial assistance which will be available to cover costs arising from the relocation in line with existing Housing NSW policy. The same financial assistance will be offered to relocating community housing tenants.
The specialist relocations officer will help the tenant to view alternative properties if they cannot do this themselves. When an offer of alternative accommodation is accepted, the relocations officer will help the tenant to organise removalists and other aspects of the move such as dealing with utilities providers. The specialist relocations officer will help the tenant to establish support services in their new location, will provide them with information on community facilities in their new location and will visit them after their move to check how they have settled in and follow up on any outstanding issues.
Where there are tenants who wish to be relocated close to each other, for example long standing neighbours who provide support to each other, every effort will be made to accommodate this.
Where a tenant has disabilities, the specialist relocations officer will arrange for an Occupational Therapist to visit the new home with the tenant and make recommendations for adaptations to the property.
Attracting tenants to alternative locations
Under FACS policy, tenants are entitled to two offers of alternative accommodation. For the Millers Point relocations, FACS will use a new approach in addition to making offers to individual tenants.
As properties become available in locations identified by relocating tenants, these will be openly displayed in a location in Millers Point with photographs and supporting information. Open house sessions will be held in those properties.
Tenants will be able to visit several properties and several tenants will be able to visit the same property. Providing that the size of property is appropriate for the tenant’s household, the first tenant to accept the property will become the new tenant.
Some properties, such as those which are fully adapted for people with disabilities will need to be excluded from this process to make sure they are allocated to people who have specific needs.
Involvement of FACS, Ageing, Disability and Home Care (ADHC) and Aged Care Assessment Teams Where a tenant is elderly or frail or a tenant has complex needs such as mental illness, the relocations officer will be a Specialist Client Service Officer with experience in working with clients with special needs. Experienced staff from FACS-ADHC will also be engaged to work with these clients. People with mobility problems will generally be offered accommodation which has a lift or is on the ground floor.
If modifications such as grab rails are required, the Specialist Client Service officer will link with an Occupational Therapist to provide an assessment of their needs and arrange to have the necessary work completed, should elderly clients require additional supports to allow them to age in place, such as shopping assistance, FACS-ADHC staff will link these services to the new accommodation.
Elderly and vulnerable clients will also be offered a relocation package which includes the removalist packing and unpacking their belongings. Contact will also be made with family and support providers and the relocations officer will help the client to re-establish support services in their new location. In the case of Aboriginal clients, Specialist Client Service Officers will draw upon the skills of existing Aboriginal Specialist staff.
If an elderly tenant appears to be struggling to live independently, the Specialist Client Service Officer will visit them, and that officer has links to the Aged Care Assessment Team and can make a referral for a specialist assessment to be undertaken to determine whether Commonwealth funded support packages should be provided.
Reimbursement of costs
Tenants’ reasonable costs of moving will be reimbursed as per FACS-Housing NSW policy. This will include removalist fees, utility connections, redirection of mail and new school uniforms where children have to change schools.
Relocating community housing tenants will also be eligible for these payments. Consistent with current policy, tenants will also be reimbursed for improvements they have made to their homes as long as those improvements were approved, subject to a reduction for fair wear and tear.
If required, Housing NSW can use its powers under the Residential Tenancy Act 2010 to terminate a tenancy if more than two offers of alternative accommodation are refused by a tenant. However, every effort will be made to ensure that it won’t be necessary to go to the Tribunal by offering well- presented and maintained accommodation wherever possible.