Monday, July 18, 2016

What is reasonable?

One of the terms used often in legal language is "reasonable".

What would a reasonable person think.
How much is reasonable force.
How does a reasonable person behave.

But what happens when you are faced with a person who does not apply "reason" to a situation. Expectations are not met and frustration is incurred. In most cases, ie. relationships, you can have a big blow-up, argue it out and then get over it.

However, when faced with a bureaucrat who applies rules without compassion; who has no vested interest in the outcome; who is power hungry and using your situation to advance their career, things can turn nasty very quickly.

Several stories have emerged lately from Housing tenants who have been forced into disastrous situations by uncaring CSOs and Team Leaders. These tales range from the mildly stupid to the outright corrupt and vindictive.

Take the CSO who rocked up at a tenant's doorstep, interviewed the "boyfriend" who was visiting and then reported it incorrectly on the neighbours file as an Unauthorised Occupant. The neighbour was vigorously investigated and the CSO would not admit their mistake.

Or the CSO who failed to answer 12 emails over a period of 8 weeks - each asking the same question: "what further paperwork do you need?" The tenant zealously sought an answer but there was total silence from Housing. Two months later the tenant received an eviction notice for failing to provide paperwork. The tenant's file was marked with the comment "harassing Housing staff with emails..."

And what about the vindictive Team Leader - when reported for misconduct, set out on a path of retaliation, spending hours (and countless $$) digging up tidbits of gossip in a cruel and relentless pursuit of the accuser.

As more and more Housing tenants are drawn from the pool of desperation, with language barriers, mental illness and high-needs roadblocks; tenant's rights are eroded and the power of those behind the desk increases, placing vulnerable clients at the mercy of callous staff.

Is it reasonable to expect Housing staff to act with an ounce of humanity?


  1. I am a Health worker in SW Sydney and I share an office with some Housing staff. Every day I overhear appalling discussions with clients and I know with certainty that they are just going to be buck-passed to the Health Dept with more serious health concerns exacerbated by Housing staff incompetence.
    It is a wonder that there are not MORE incidents of violence against Housing staff. I am truly scared that one day a frustrated tenant will walk into our office with a shotgun.

    1. I agree. I have seen the calmest, nicest people who never even raise their voice - scream at staff who treat them with disrespect.

  2. my cso removed papers from my file so that it looked like i didn’t have permission to be away when i did. it was just lucky i had stamped copies of the originals. he didn’t get fired, he didn’t even get reprimanded. he got promoted.

    1. The worse they are, the higher they rise to the top.

  3. my team leader told me I could have my brother come to stay coz he was dying of cancer. he said he only needed a medical certificate and he could stay until he died. He had a very long and painful death but the staff had no compassion at all and kept hounding me for an “unauthorised visitor” even though I had verbal permission from the Team Leader. I kept asking them to give me written permission but no one ever came back with the forms. I trusted the Team Leader but months later I got into serious trouble for not providing my brother’s bank account details. This was such a scary and emotional time for me and they just piled more and more stress on me until I broke down.

    1. NEVER ever trust verbal instructions. If you can't get it in writing then treat it as a lie.

  4. My mum only speaks Japanese so her file has my phone number and when they need to speak to her I can go around as the interpreter. One day the CSO turned up at the door unannunced and scared mum half to death with her screaching demands. Mum rang me in tears and when I turned up to confront the CSO I yelled at her about not calling me first. It was marked on mum’s file that I was aggressive and should not be called in future. How do I get this changed?

    1. The only thing that makes them take you seriously is legal intervention. Legal aid. You need written documentation from medical practitioner(s) stating clearly that your mother cannot comprehend English and that you are her interpreter. Only the tribunal works most of the time.

    2. Oh, almost forgot. And when you do take the doctors papers to the housing office, make sure you get date stamped copies given back to you to keep.

  5. I left housing coz of this sort of BS. Bunch of losers the lot of them.

  6. Do the managers in their ivory towers know exactly how broken the system on the ground is?

    1. No they don't. And furthermore they don't care. They have no interest in fixing a system that only affects vulnerable people.
      They don't live in the real world where imperfect humans reside.
      They don't understand that sometimes humans forget their paperwork or can't add up properly or can't follow instructions.
      They don't make allowances for people with little English or little education or hard of hearing.
      They can't fathom why people get emotional, get stressed, have mental breakdowns or suffer depression.

    2. I know this is very old now, but I wanted to let you know that they darned well know now what their staff have been up too at least to the Regional Directorate level on the Central Coast, I've been copying them recently on my issues having gotten no answer

      They still point blank refuse to even answer how there can be tens of serious incident reports sitting in my file unanswered, while my blind wife and 5 year old son sit in our house crapping their pants for the 30 minutes per week me as their carer gets out of the house without them. Heck, we ended up getting an AVO on one of our neighbours sons, and they just looked at us and went "eeeerrr he doesn't even live there, he's not on the lease", and refused to even discuss providing us emergency accomodation until we went to court.

      We've been pelted with rocks over the fence, my wife and son targeted with death threats over the back fence into our own backyard, cars constantly threatened to be driven into our house, and all because we asked for, and unfortunately had to receive, a basic level of common neighbourly decency that we've never, ever failed to have a single problem with anywhere we've ever lived before this.

      Housing NSW have essentially done nothing, and continue to do nothing, and having never actually visited us to learn of our needs, nor read the casework file that went into our app 3 years back), they are supposedly trying to find us a new place that "will meet our needs", while having zero idea of what they are.

      The one thing that they seem to think is that we're dumb, and as people like the owner and commenter of these blogs come out and share their experiences, and we pressure the bureaucracy at the political level to change the entire department from the very core, it certainly doesn't appear to be working for *anyone*.

      There will soon be a forum avaiable for open discussion on these issues, I am hoping to work with the owner of this site if they are willing in finding some suitable candidates to help me manage any traffic that eventuates so it stays a positive useful resource.

  7. It's all about POWER and CONTROL.

  8. I worked as an administrator (I don't see clients) in a Housing office in central Sydney. Many times I had to type up notes on the client files with "aggressive" or "unco-operative" when I knew that the tenant was just totally at their wits end trying to get a straight answer. Worse though was when the CSO's would put postit notes on the front cover of the files with codes like SP serial pest, BL bloody loser, FF f*cking foreigner.

  9. Hiya, the reason for your blog more generally, and what you have been through and talk about here mirrors my current experience with the Central Coast tenancy team in NSW.

    I am the carer for a blind woman, my wife and our son, and we have had the most ghastly experience being placed next to a huge domestically violent family that have destroyed our lives, and to date, HNSW have refused to even come out and discuss it (or answer tens of letters we and our caseworker have written asking for help).

    Like you, I don't want to come across as a loon, but we do need find a way to document and report on this, and I personally feel that some of the tactics currently being used *must* be exposed, as I have an IQ in the 170s (and Aspergers much to their dismay), and I see exactly how sinister they are in trampling on the rights of the vulnerable, and it must stop.

    I'm also an old IT hand with serious, long-term engineering experience and can throw up quality IT infrastructure in a jiffy. I've now spent the 10 bucks per month to get a machine going to host this all on, and if I can find a way to learn to network better (I'm a little on the spectrum) I'd love to turn it into an active, productive community of public housing tenants that shows the best, not worst side of us.

    If you have 5 minutes for a personal chat at some point, please do email me for my number :-)


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