Fallout fear for Gympie
THERE is no doubt in Gympie community workers' minds that their Member for Parliament, David Gibson, is backed into a tight corner.
While his government continues to announce cutback after cutback of services tailored for the disadvantaged in communities like Gympie across Queensland, Mr Gibson has been busy fielding a high volume of calls from angry community workers and their clients.
They've been left reeling after the announcement the Tenant Advice & Advocacy Service would be axed along with programs funded under the Skilling Queenslanders for Work initiative.
Mr Gibson said the harsh reality was that something had to be cut.
"What's happening in Gympie is happening all over Queensland and it's no different to when the family budget is stretched and sacrifices need to be made," he said.
"No one wants to go down this path but the facts are, if you don't have the money, you can't pay for the program. The point is - what has got to go. Should we cut back on the number of police or employ fewer teachers?"
Unemployed father of three, Rade Trivanovic, is one of hundreds of Gympie renters who have turned to the Tenant Advice & Advocacy Service this month.
Mr Trivanovic was seeking information and advice about his rights and responsibilities because of an issue with his landlord and a looming inspection.
His case is a classic example of how TAAS educates, supports and empowers tenants to understand their rights and responsibilities under the state's renting laws.
Community Action's housing services manager Michelle Hine said the TAAS service was crucial for disadvantaged tenants who without support would not have a voice.
"Many tenants feel ill-equipped to deal with complex tenancy issues alone and are often unable or unwilling to fight for their rights because they fear the ramifications of doing so," she said. "TAAS workers are advocates who work to address the imbalance of power between tenants, private lessors and real estate agents."
TAAS workers like Renee Nielsen, who offer face-to-face assistance for clients like Mr Trivanovic, will be out of a job in October and tenants will now have to contact the RTA call centre for advice.
Ms Hine says the problem with that is, vulnerable people do not communicate well under stress and over the telephone.
An additional function of the Gympie TAAS office is to help clients at risk of homelessness to complete the government's housing application and bond loan forms - a lengthy and complicated process requiring intensive help.
The Gympie TAAS office assists an average of 140 clients per month.