Community expertise undervalued
The NSW government has announced that Mission Australia will provide the replacement service for the long-standing Tenant Participation Resource Services (TPRS) and place-based Housing Communities Program (HCP). Mission Australia will run the new Tenant Participation and Community Engagement (TPCE) across the entire state from December 3 after the existing TPRS and HCP end. Prior to the announcement, REDWatch initiated an online petition over the loss of services expected in Redfern and Waterloo as a result of the change in programs.
The petition is not designed to overturn the decision, but rather to ensure that Redfern and Waterloo public housing communities are not adversely impacted and do not lose services.
The announcement of a state-wide service provider which has not historically been involved in tenant support services and which does not have an on-the-ground presence in Redfern and Waterloo only strengthens the view of REDWatch that there will be significant gaps in tenant support programs.
While Minister for Family and Community Services and Social Housing, Pru Goward, claims the “new [TPCE] program will offer tenants more opportunities to access information [and] ensure that tenant voices are heard in the development and delivery of reforms”, REDWatch co-spokesperson Geoff Turnbull says: “[T]here may be a boost of services in some areas, [but] these will be at the expense of the place-based services provided by HCP in areas like Redfern and Waterloo and some of the functions undertaken previously by TPRS.
“There is also a significant irony in the TPCE fact sheet’s claim that through ‘Mission Australia’s extensive networks, TPCE will link FACS housing tenants to outreach, advocacy and support services’, when one of the areas in dispute between existing TPRS providers and FACS concerns the advocacy role TPRS workers had played in the past,” he says. “It will be interesting to see which advocacy services tenants are now referred to.”
REDWatch also disagrees with the fact sheet claiming FACS conducted an independent review of programs in 2017. “The only review of the HCP was a desktop audit after the decision had been made to end the program. Tenants involved in the TPRS and HCP programs were not consulted at all about what they wanted from a program focused on supporting their tenant participation,” Mr Turnbull says.
While both Counterpoint Community Services and Inner Sydney Voice made bids for the TPCE tender, neither organisation was interviewed prior to the final decision. On behalf of Redfern Waterloo residents, Counterpoint Community Services made a representation to FACS about the poor tendering process. It has received no response.
The TPCE fact sheet also includes the following: “FACS wanted to change these programs because too much time was spent on administration of contracts, taking resources away from tenants.” In other words, FACS preferred a state-wide provider over small place-based programs well connected into the public housing communities they serve.
Introducing new staff
Adam Antonelli has joined the Counterpoint Community Services team as the Waterloo Redevelopment Community Development Officer, who will continue to support residents and community groups through the master plan process for Waterloo.
Adam recently completed a Bachelor of International and Global Studies degree from the University of Sydney, with a double major in Political Economy and Government and International Relations. Adam has experience in hospitality and volunteering for young people, refugees and asylum seekers. He has a keen interest in areas of social justice, equality and human rights and is also an active member within the LGBTQ community.
Adam is based at The Factory Community Centre and can be contacted on 9698 9569 or via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thomas Hill is TEI Community Development Worker and Playgroups Coordinator. He will work with Counterpoint’s multicultural groups and facilitate the Playgroups in the Park program as well as assist and develop local parent support activities.
Thomas has a Bachelor of Arts with a double major in English and Modern History from the University of Sydney, and completed his Honours research in poetics. He is currently completing his Diploma of Community Services and has spent over eight years working in child protection in the Philippines. He is the founder and director of the Make a Change Foundation.
Thomas is based at Counterpoint Multicultural Services and can be contacted on 9319 4073 or email@example.com.
George Barrett is Counterpoint’s new project officer for the new Waterloo Impact project. Over the next 12 months, George will work with local community groups to develop their governance capacities and self-resilience. In addition, he will support existing social enterprises and develop business cases for new ones. He will also assist with research to inform the development of the Waterloo Human Services framework, particularly around referral pathways with local NGO case managers.
George brings 12 years of professional experience working within the not-for-profit sector and has a background in community development, capacity building, project management and historical research. He has worked with Maori tribal and Pacifica organisations in urban and rural traditional land settings, and in not-for-profit agencies in New Zealand. He has recently completed a volunteer posting as a health project coordinator for Australian Doctors International in Papua New Guinea.
George can be contacted at Counterpoint Multicultural Services on 9319 4073 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Restore support for public housing tenant services!
That FACS urgently, in consultation with tenant bodies and local service providers:
- Assess the impact of the decision to windup TPRS and HCP on place-based work in Redfern and Waterloo and other areas where place-based providers are impacted by the decision to end the HCP and TPRS programs;
- Ensure there is no loss of support, services or historical community activities to the Redfern and Waterloo public housing communities and their neighbourhood advisory boards, resulting from the windup of HCP and TPRS;
- Provide additional funding to local community centres impacted by the HCP decision so community centres can continue to provide place-based programs to service the local public housing communities who walk through their doors;
- Recognise that funding to local NGOs for Communities Plus projects which are handling redevelopments in Redfern and Waterloo do not replace the need of HCP and TPRS programs. The Communities Plus projects are in response to new needs arising from the decision to redevelop these estates.
Sign the petition here: https://bit.ly/2SSsvk0/. Paper copies are available for signing at The Factory in Raglan Street, Waterloo.