The Department of Communities accepts the key findings contained within the performance audit report on disruptive behaviour and illegal activities in public housing and, accordingly, has either commenced or scheduled implementation actions to address each recommendation. Timeframes proposed take into consideration other work and reviews currently underway, including the Social Housing Review, the design and implementation of Housing Options (the foundation for a Housing Needs Register) and business systems upgrades and optimisation, that will support, enable and/or complement the implementation of the recommendations in this report.
The nature of disruptive behaviour and its causes are complex. The Department acknowledges that there is a need to continually improve our investigation and management of complaints taking into consideration the complex circumstances of individual cases.
The Department is pleased to note that many of the findings relate to opportunities to enhance or better align procedures and improve the effectiveness of our efforts. We acknowledge that many of these suggestions are consistent with, and will enhance, our approach to embracing the objectives of the Machinery of Government changes.
In relation to the audit conclusions, the Department acknowledges that the Disruptive Behaviour Management Strategy requires review with a focus on earlier intervention, adequate tenancy support, appropriate information sharing and improved data collection and reporting.
The Department has commenced a Social Housing Review which aims to maximise social outcomes from the social housing system, recognising the Departments’ mandate as the State’s human services agency. The Disruptive Behaviour Management Strategy and associated policies and procedures will be considered through this review.
Within the new structure and the now broader Department of Communities, the development of a more holistic view of households (particularly those at high risk) is being explored to improve connection to appropriate supports and enable improved social and economic wellbeing.
The implementation of the Thrive program in July 2019 will improve the Department’s ability to provide earlier support to clients to ensure increased capacity to manage and sustain tenancies. The referral framework for the Thrive program is currently being developed and the potential to undertake a risk assessment of prospective tenants to identify those who may need early support is being considered.
Over the last few years the Department has improved the way complaint data is recorded and used but acknowledges that further improvements are required to fix data gaps and improve data integrity to enable the identification of opportunities to minimise disruptive behaviour and provide timely, appropriate early intervention and support to those who need it.
Since 2009 the Department has contributed significant investment, time and resources to progress the work outlined in the Disruptive Behaviour Management Strategy, so it is pleasing that this is acknowledged throughout the report.
The Department is committed to implementing actions as a result of the audit findings and recommendations. The Department is confident that work already commenced, and the improvements that will be made as a result of this report will advance the way the Department manages disruptive behaviour and will improve the way tenants are supported to sustain their tenancies, resulting in better outcomes for tenants, their families and the community.