Social workers, counsellors and health practitioners will be able to help survivors of DV end their tenancy under new legislation.
ASU members at Women's Legal Service NSW, Domestic Violence NSW, People with Disability Australia and Tenants' Union NSW have welcomed the passing of this important legislation to improve the safety of victims-survivors of domestic violence.
The reforms will expand the list of "competent person" able to provide evidence, helping people experiencing DV to end their tenancy without penalty.
ASU members have been campaigning for this for years, including signing an open letter to Minister Kean and former Minister Goward calling for a longer list of "competent persons".
Once the legislation is proclaimed, the list of "competent persons" will be expanded to include:
- a broader range of health practitioners,
- registered social workers,
- an employee of a government agency that provides child welfare services,
- an employee of a non-government agency receiving government funding to provide services relating to:
- domestic violence or sexual assault,
- or refuge or emergency accommodation,
- a counsellor approved under the Victims Support Scheme,
- or a person prescribed by future regulations.
One of the exciting aspects of the reforms is that a ‘competent person’ can be prescribed in regulation, so while we celebrate this significant improvement to the law, we also look forward to continued advocacy to further expand the list of ‘competent person’ so the protections can be accessed by all who need them.
“We welcome the expansion of the list of people who can provide evidence of domestic violence to end a tenancy early in circumstances of domestic violence. However, people with disability face significant barriers to accessing some of the people named in the expanded list. We would therefore encourage the inclusion of independent disability advocates,” says Dr Meg Clement-Couzner, Senior Policy Officer, People with Disability Australia.
Women's Legal Service are continuing to seek de-identified case studies to highlight the need to further expand the list of ‘competent person’. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
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