Building Tenancy Skills
Building capacity to maintain tenancies
Building capacity to maintain tenancies
Shelter WA, in a partnership with People with Disabilities WA (PWdWA) has commenced a project to build resources that help tenants with disability feel more confident about their rights and responsibilities as tenants. We will work alongside people with disability and relevant advocacy, financial counselling, disability, consumer protection, community legal, housing and housing support providers to develop skills and resources to help prevent evictions and reduce the risk of homelessness for people with disability. Organisations will also be supported to increase the accessibility of their supports and resources so they are more available to people with disability who would like to access the services on offer.
Watch a recent presentation giving an overview of the project from Dr Donna Turner
There are approximately 411,500 people who experience disability of some kind who are living in Western Australia. The vast majority either own or are buying their home or are renting privately in the community. (ABS 2019) People who experience higher levels of disability are more likely to be renting in social housing. If the person experiences a high level of disability and has a high need for support, they may receive NDIS funding for Specialist Disability Accommodation or funding to assist with living independently. However, individualised NDIS funding is available to only a small percentage of people. In June 2021, 41,000 people in WA were receiving individualised NDIS funding.
The majority of people with disability who would like tenancy support will access mainstream services, including legal advice, advocacy, financial counselling and assistance with arrears. Access to these services can be the difference between a person being able to keep their rental home or being evicted. What we see currently is that people with disability are more likely to experience issues during rental inspections (Choice, 2018).
This project will work alongside people with lived experience of disability and renting to develop a Workshop to enhance their knowledge and confidence about renting. The project will also seek collaborations with service providers who would like to enhance their ability to work with clients who experience disability and are seeking support with a tenancy related issue.
The project will run until February 2023 with the evaluation to be completed by April 2023.
Note: Many people do not use the word disability in relation to their own experience but in this project, the term includes people who experience ongoing challenges in their everyday lives that can impact on their ability to maintain their rented property. This includes people who experience physical and sensory restrictions, an acquired brain injury, neurological, or intellectual disability. People who are living with mental health challenges or problematic substance use are also included if they experience psychosocial disability.
Shelter WA is looking forward to working with the Co-Design Team. Fourteen people from across WA who have diverse experiences of disability and renting will be working with us for the next seven months. They will identify the priority areas they would like to focus on and then design resources and collaborations to address the gaps.
The Co-Design Team will also develop a workshop for tenants with disability.
The workshop will provide people with information about their responsibilities and their rights as tenants, as well as provide skills in self-advocacy.
The Co-Design Team will be supported in their work by Danielle Loizou-Lake who will facilitate the meetings and ensure people have the tools they need to participate. A team from the Centre for Social Impact at UWA, Mariana Atkins, Lisette Kaleveld, and Kelly Clark will provide research support and evaluation to ensure we are building on the good work that has already been done and so we don’t risk reinventing the wheel. The Project Manager, Donna Turner, will support the team by working with the Advisory Group and introducing various organisations to the Co-Design Team to assist with developing resources. The Co-Design Team has met as a group and they will keep us up to date with the news articles below.
The Advisory Group is comprised of peak bodies and government departments across the housing, rental, consumer protection, financial counselling, advocacy, and disability sectors. Their first meeting was held on Friday, November 26. We received a presentation from Tom Chapman, Senior Regional Officer, Consumer Protection, Kimberley Region and Anna O’Connor, Legal Aid WA, on the recently released tenancy resources called My Place, part of the Blurred Borders project. Those resources are available online here. The Group meet again in February and received a summary of progress from Project Manager, Donna Turner. Presentations were provided by Alison Patterson of Foundation Housing on the recently launched Supportive Landlord resource, and from Daisy Ashworth at Red Cross who shared a resource on the Private Tenancy Support Service.
Advisory Group members have highlighted areas where there is potential to develop training and other resources to improve the accessibility of financial counselling and legal advocacy services to tenants with disability. A series of fact sheets on tenancy matters has been translated into plain English. An explanatory flyer is being developed that highlights the value of financial counselling to sustaining a tenancy in difficult times. A video highlighting a successful tenancy outcome is currently being story boarded. At Developmental Disability WA – DDWA a small team is producing a plain English and an Easy Read guide to the Residential Tenancy Agreement. There was also a valuable discussion about the potential of private sector Property Managers and NDIS support workers to provide tenants with information about tenancy support services.
The Advisory Group members include Consumer Protection, CoMHWA, AODCCC, WAMMH, WAIS, REIWA, Carers WA, Kin Advocacy, Office of Disability, Foundation Housing, DDWA, Circle Green, Financial Counsellor’s Association of WA, Legal Aid WA, Council on the Ageing (COTA), National Disability Services, Marita Walker, People With disability WA (PWdWA) and Shelter WA.
The Co-Design Team are currently working with a number of service providers to develop new resources. They are also developing the Building Tenancy Skills Workshop. They are using resources that already exist, as well as developing new materials when necessary. Filming will shortly commence to produce videos that encourage tenants to reach out for support and to provide practical tips for dealing with some of the stresses of renting. By July, the workshop will be ready for piloting.
The Advisory Group have identified a number of areas for future work including gathering more feedback from organisations and tenants in regional areas and ensuring that people from diverse back grounds can access tenancy support services. The Centre for Social Impact UWA is analysing data from the Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers to help us identify the changing trends in renting amongst tenants with disability.
One of the clearest trends is the growing disparity amongst over 55’s between those with disability, who are much more likely to be renting, and those without disability who are more likely to be homeowners.
These are photos from March 2021 when members of the Co-Design Team and service providers from Circle Green, the Financial Counsellors’ Association of Western Australia, People with Disabilities WA Inc. and Consumer Protection worked together to identify useful resources on tenancy issues.
Danielle is a co-design facilitator for this project. With lived experience of physical disability she is working with the co-design team and facilitating a process to remove barriers to maintaining housing for people living with disabilities.
Amber is a co-design facilitator for this project. Amber has a lived experience of disability. She has a background in advocacy, access and inclusion planning, and in creating resources in different formats such as plain English.
Funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services.
Visit www.dss.gov.au for more information.