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Saturday, May 28, 2022

Public and community housing complaint handling under investigation

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The Victorian Ombudsman has launched an inquiry into the handling of complaints about council and council housing to facilitate the process.

The investigation will examine if the current complaint handling processes are “effective, fair and sufficiently-tenant focused”.

Ombudsman Deborah Glass said her office had been monitoring complaints about public housing and community housing over the year to January 2022, during which time the Ombudsman received more than 1000 housing complaints.

The issues raised by these complaints are also being considered in light of the Social Housing Regulation Review recently commissioned by the state government, with which the office has liaised following the release in December 2021 of the review’s interim report.

Ms Glass said effective complaints handling was essential for accountability, transparency, and confidence in the system.

“All too often we receive complaints about basic needs such as running water and electricity, and reasonably maintained, clean and safe premises,” Ms Glass said.

“Many tenants tell us they don’t know how to complain or feel they are not being listened to.

“Some come to our office with concerns or misunderstandings about how their complaint was handled.

“Neither the number of complaints nor the common issues have lessened over the years.

“With the current government’s focus on housing reform and funding of community housing, it is timely to review the dispute resolution mechanisms in place.”

The Ombudsman’s inquiry, findings and recommendations are independent, however, will aim to contribute to the complaints handling aspect of the revision of the Social Housing Regulation.

The investigation will meet with public and community housing tenants, and community services, as well as the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing and the Housing Registrar.

This investigation will focus on how complaints from public and community housing tenants are handled.

The report will be made public during the first half of 2022.

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