Tenancy service hangs on in Gladstone on despite cuts

ONE of the region's most important rental assistance authorities to help renters has been granted a reprieve.

Gladstone region residents still have access to the services of a full-time Tenant Advice and Advocacy Service officer despite funding cuts by the Queensland Government.

Gladstone Regional Council's Community Services portfolio spokeswoman Maxine Brushe said residents could still access TAAS services despite some office closures at other regional centres.   

"The Gladstone office continues to provide advice and advocacy to Gladstone region tenants, referring owners and lessors to the RTA and has been aiding any callers seeking support from the Rockhampton region," Cr Brushe said.

"The level of funding Gladstone receives will determine future service provision to the community and whether outreach services can be reintroduced."

Cr Brushe said the continuation of services meant clients could access personalised service and support in understanding their rights and responsibilities, providing advocacy with real estates and assistance with social housing.

"Further assistance offered includes completing paperwork, referrals to other agencies, support letters, providing options and continued community involvement with groups such as Interagency," she said.

"Earlier this year, it was announced joint funding for TAAS, through the State Government's Residential Tenancies Authority and the Department of Housing and Public Works would end on October 31," Cr Brushe said.

As a slight reprieve, the Federal Government announced in early October that $3.3 million in emergency funding would cover the costs of TAAS until June 30.

"This pro-rata payment does not include $1 million of funding which was provided by the Department of Housing and Public Works, meaning a reduction in overall funding by 22%."

Cr Brushe said as a result of the funding cuts, the Gladstone region had been reduced to one full-time TAAS officer, losing the services of a support officer and its provision of outreach services.

"TAAS has operated from council's Community Advisory Service in Goondoon St since 1991 and provides valuable community assistance helping people understand their rights and responsibilities in regards to residential tenancies," Cr Brushe said.

"In the Gladstone region, housing pressures brought about by rapid economic and population growth have created strong demand for the advocacy service.

"TAAS services have been fully booked for the past 18 months, offering free and confidential access to information, advocacy and advice."

The Federal Government has accepted an offer from the State Government to administer funds, meaning a new service agreement is pending.

Appointments can be arranged with the Gladstone region TAAS officer by contacting 4976 6360.

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