Social Housing Assistance Policy for Registrable Persons
Last published 12 Apr 2018
Housing Pathways social housing providers receive applications for housing assistance from persons who are on the NSW Child Protection Register and have been convicted of sexual and/or violent offences against children.
This policy outlines the Housing Pathways Social Housing Sector’s role in the provision of housing for registrable persons.
A registrable person is defined as a person who has committed a sexual and/or violent offence against young people (under 18 years of age). As part of their sentence these offenders are required to be on the Child Protection Register which is administered and managed by the NSW Police Force, Child Protection Registry (CPR). The Child Protection Register is established under the Child Protection (Offender Registration) Act 2000.
Justice and Law Enforcement agencies, such as the NSW Police Force and Corrective Services NSW, are responsible for the management of registrable persons in the community. Responsibilities include:
- The processes involved in identifying a registrable person
- Assessing the risk of a registrable person to the community/risk of reoffending
- Ensuring that appropriate strategies are implemented to manage this risk.
Some registrable persons living in the community have specific requirements identified by the NSW Police Force and Corrective Services NSW, particularly in relation to the most appropriate location for them to reside.
FACS and community housing providers participating in Housing Pathways are not responsible for assessing risks posed by any offenders in relation to their offending history or status.
Participating social housing providers work in partnership with the NSW Police Force and Corrective Services NSW to be able to appropriately meet the specific housing requirements of a registrable person.
Information provided by the NSW Police Force and Corrective Services NSW will assist participating social housing providers in providing appropriate social housing assistance to a registrable person.
2. Aims and Objectives
Housing Pathways social housing providers in NSW will provide appropriate housing assistance to eligible registrable persons consistent with the specific requirements identified by the NSW Police Force and Corrective Services NSW
Social housing providers will meet the following objectives in relation to registrable persons:
- Applications from registrable persons will be assessed consistent with existing social housing policies and procedures
- Housing options will be provided to eligible registrable persons consistent with the NSW Police Force and Corrective Services NSW agencies’ policies and procedures for registrable persons
- The exchange of information between organisations will be consistent with existing relevant policies and legislation
- Strong collaborative arrangements will be developed and maintained with the NSW Police Force and Corrective Services NSW
- Where applicable, social housing providers may negotiate with support providers and relevant agencies for the support required to enable a registrable person to sustain their tenancy
Notwithstanding anything in the Eligibility for Social Housing Policy, a client may be ineligible for housing assistance (including social housing, temporary accommodation and private rental assistance) if:
- He or she has a history of having committed registrable offences, and
- It is likely that the provision of social housing will:
- cause nuisance and annoyance, and/or
- present an unacceptable risk of harm to the client, to other occupants of the building where the client is located or to neighbours.
FACS or the community housing provider will be guided by information provided by the NSW Police Force or Corrective Services NSW as to the likelihood of the above occurring.
3. Registrable Persons
The role of social housing providers is to provide stable and appropriate housing options to all eligible clients, including registrable persons that are consistent with existing policies and procedures. A social housing provider may seek advice from the NSW Police Force and Corrective Services NSW to provide assistance to a registrable person that is consistent with any of their specific housing requirements.
Registrable persons who are assessed as eligible for social housing assistance may access the full range of housing products and services available including:
- Public and Community Housing leases
- All private rental assistance products
- Temporary accommodation, including emergency temporary accommodation
- Private Rental Subsidy assistance.
At the time of allocation FACS will request information from the NSW Police Force and Corrective Services NSW regarding the appropriateness of the allocation. This includes allocation into the private rental market where the registered person has sought social housing assistance.
3.2 Rescinding or withdrawing an offer of Housing Assistance
If an allocation is made, and the social housing provider subsequently finds out that the person is a registrable person, and there is concern about the risks posed, the offer may be rescinded, and advice sought from the NSW Police Force and Corrective Services NSW about an alternate and more appropriate offer.
3.3 Termination of Tenancy
In some cases, in relation to registrable persons, FACS may invoke Part 7A of the Housing Act 2001 which enables FACS to terminate a Public Housing lease of a registrable person if there is risk of harm and upon recommendation by the Commissioner of Police. Currently community housing leases are not covered by this Act and providers will need to seek advice from FACS who will then liaise with the NSW Police Force and/or Corrective Services NSW. Based on the information received, community housing providers will need to determine their own course of action.
The NSW Police Force will provide formal written advice to FACS if they believe that a tenant or other household member (either authorised or unauthorised) who is a registrable person, should be relocated.
3.4 Specific Support Needs
Some registrable persons have complex needs that require support. These complex needs may include mental health problems, substance misuse, and intellectual disabilities. Stable and suitable accommodation is a pivotal part of the reintegration of offenders into the community and support should accompany applications for housing assistance to ensure that registrable persons who have complex needs can sustain their tenancy, access specialist support services and adhere to any legal mandates imposed upon them.
The role of social housing providers is to assist clients to access support through making appropriate referrals to agencies, and where necessary participate in partnership arrangements. Clients who apply for social housing assistance and have support needs should have a case plan in place that is designed to assist them to sustain their tenancy.
Social housing providers should adopt a proactive tenancy management approach for all clients. However for those clients who are known to be registrable persons, the approach needs to be integrated with the commitment of support from appropriate agencies, and involve ongoing collaboration with the NSW Police Force and/or Corrective Services NSW.
Social housing providers must also inform the relevant the NSW Police Force and/or Corrective Services NSW of any issues that may affect a registrable person’s tenancy, as homelessness may increase the risk to the community.
3.5. Recognition as a Tenant
For a client applying for recognition as a tenant, who is identified during that process as a registrable person and the NSW Police Force and/or Corrective Services NSW indicate that the property they currently reside in is unsuitable, that client will not be eligible for a lease, including a provisional lease, for the property they currently reside in. Instead they will be assessed immediately for their entitlement to housing assistance.
People assessed as ineligible for social housing as high risk registrable persons are not eligible for a lease, including a provisional lease.
4. Information Exchange
FACS is the legal owner of information on the NSW Housing Register about a client and shares this information with community housing providers for the purpose of allocating social housing properties. FACS will formally provide information to the NSW Police Force and/or Corrective Services NSW on all applicants, tenants and additional occupants (regardless of the product or service they are applying for) who disclose their status as a registrable person.
The principle piece of legislation that currently governs the exchange of information is Chapter 16A of the Children’s and Young Persons Care and Protection Act 1998. Under this legislation, FACS, community housing providers and other agencies can exchange information that relates to the protection of children and young people. Sections 19BA and 21E of the Child Protection (Offenders Registration) Act 2000 also have provisions for sharing information in regard to registrable persons.
When social housing providers are requesting or sharing information with agencies in relation to registrable persons, there must be a lawful reason to do so. It is not necessary for a social housing provider to request or have access to offence histories or conviction information. Any information exchanged is restricted information that is of relevance to the social housing provider in relation to the provision of housing assistance.
FACS will seek to ensure that only lawful and relevant information is disclosed to ensure the privacy and confidentiality of the individual is respected. Client consent is not required to exchange information in relation to appropriate housing assistance for registrable persons.
5. Community Strategies
Social housing providers support interagency initiatives to educate communities about offender issues including the rights of offenders to live in stable housing.
Social housing providers will work collaboratively with the NSW Police Force and Corrective Services NSW in relation to negative community reaction when a registrable person is exposed by the community or the media.
Social housing providers will support interagency initiatives to promote a whole-of-government approach to reducing reoffending and homelessness which aligns with NSW Government priorities, including improving community safety within the social housing sector.