In October 2021, around 100 Tenant Advocates from across NSW came together online for our annual Tenants Advice and Advocacy Services Conference, under the theme 'Forging Ahead'. It was a great opportunity for Tenant Advocates to hear from each other about the issues faced by different renters, and to learn, discuss and innovate in our practice. A main focus of the Conference this year was the huge challenges faced by renters due to COVID and the ongoing housing crisis, as well as how we can forge ahead and continue to improve.
On Friday 21 May 2021, WESTS held a community engagement event at the Skye Hotel in Parramatta to reconnect with key partners of our organisation. The event was a great success. There were over 60 attendees at the community engagement day who were able to finally reconnect with WESTS after a long-period of physical isolation dating back to the COVID-19 lockdown in March last year.
The past year has been an extraordinary one for the Tenants’ Union, by any measure. Unprecedented bushfires and then flooding across NSW drove many displaced tenants to tenancy services for support. Several months of natural disasters then gave way to the COVID-19 pandemic which not only drove a record number of tenants to our online resources looking for information and advice but it forced the Tenants’ Union’s own staff to start working remotely. During these external challenges, this year the Tenants’ Union was also forced to look for a new office space and recruit a new CEO. It has been an incredible year of change, but the staff at the Tenants’ Union have taken it in their stride and risen to every challenge.
Last week, over 100 Tenant Advocates participated in our first online Tenants Advice and Advocacy Services Conference. We explored a range of topics, including changes to tenancy laws, policy reform, and advocate work practice. We looked in detail at the effects COVID-19 has had on tenants lives, the Tribunal’s practices, tenancy law, and mental health.
Esther Smith is a Tenant Advocate at the Greater Sydney Aboriginal Tenants' Service (GSATS). In this interview she talks about her day-to-day experiences as an advocate, as well as what keeps her motivated and inspired.
The Tenants' Union has published a basic factsheet in 7 community languages summarising renters rights under COVID-19 regulations. The factsheet has information on paying rent, evictions, the rules on access to rented properties for getting repairs done, inspections for sale of premises, and other issues that renters are facing.