Managing Disruptive Behaviour in Public Housing

Audit focus and scope

The audit objective was to assess how effectively the Department of Communities manages tenants that are disruptive or conduct illegal activities in public housing. The specific lines of inquiry were:

  1. Does the Department have effective mechanisms in place to manage tenants in accordance with its Disruptive Behaviour Management Strategy?
  2. Are complaints effectively managed to deliver consistent, timely and fair outcomes?

In undertaking the audit, we:

  • reviewed strategies, policies, procedures and other documents from the Department
  • analysed the Department’s complaint management data in Habitat from July 2016 to end April 2018, including an in-depth review of 30 complaint investigations
  • interviewed Department staff, including those managing complaint investigations, from 3 metropolitan and 3 non-metropolitan offices, and in the Child Protection and Family Support (CPFS) division
  • attended 5 natural justice tenant interviews and 5 staff case conference meetings to observe complaint investigation and resolution processes
  • conducted a site visit to the Withers Urban Renewal Project in Bunbury
  • assessed 15 phone complaints using Department procedures and the principles of effective complaints handling for public authorities from the Ombudsman Western Australia’s Guidelines on Complaint Handling
  • interviewed, attended meetings with, and reviewed submissions from stakeholders and community members, such as Tenancy WA, Tenancy Network WA, Shelter WA, Aboriginal Legal Service of WA and the Equal Opportunity Commission
  • interviewed staff from other key agencies with a role in disruptive behaviour and illegal activity management in public housing, including Police and the Mental Health Commission
  • reviewed Police Information Services Unit Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) Incident Reports for public housing properties
  • reviewed published national policies on behaviour management in public housing.

The audit did not include the 5,300 Government Regional Officers’ Housing (GROH) properties or 2,662 community housing properties in 114 remote Aboriginal communities. We did not look in detail at specific groups of tenants, such as those with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage, seniors, or those with a disability. We also did not examine housing allocations or property transfers in detail.

This was a narrow scope performance audit, conducted under section 18 of the Auditor General Act 2006 and in accordance with Australian Assurance Standard ASAE 3500 Performance Engagements. We complied with the independence and other relevant ethical requirements related to assurance engagements. Performance audits primarily focus on the effective management of agency and local government programs and activities. The approximate cost of undertaking the audit and reporting is $318,000.

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