Demand justice, fairness, and accountability for tenants involved with social housing
Queensland provides housing to vulnerable members of our community. The housing we provide must not make residents ill, cause them injuries or be unsafe. We owe a duty of care to residents. We must support them and compensate them if they become ill or injured because of inadequate social housing. The Minister and the Department must treat residents fairly and behave as model litigants in negotiating compensation for claims that may arise from inadequate housing. Accountability matters.
“I contracted toxic mold syndrome (TMS) when I lived in government housing at Unit 2 10 William Street, Alexandra Headland. I literally nearly died 3 times and I lost much of my stomach due to the affects of toxin damage. I'll never take a full breath again and my immune system is not the best anymore. Basically my systems felt as though they had started shutting down, and after being told by Royal Brisbane Hospital that it was ELECTIVE surgery and they wouldn’t approve me, and Nambour General treated me like an attention seeker with drug seeking behaviour as I was in pain., I then asked my dr for a referral to a local Private Hospital. From my first appointment, having testing done to being on the theatre table it was 6 weeks and $30,000. My health was so fragile, I was advised that it may be a good idea to get my affairs in order.
Before this, I worked hard (18 hr days semi regularly) was a senior member, team leader and trainer and assessor with the State Emergency Service and Rural Firies, ran 3 marathons a year, and practiced karate. Before I got sick I had $100,000 in life savings, and now I'm struggling to buy basic necessities, my medication costs have increased exponentially, and am now in debt after moving house, which the dept said they would cover the $2500 removalists cost but also reneged on. I lost EVERYTHING I owned except for my sealed maple wood furniture. My clothes, linen, kitchen appliances, lounge, bed, aircon, you name it, it was destroyed. Nicholas Smith, the OT at Maroochydore office at the time, witnessed me having to throw my belongings out, and had witnessed me standing by my bed crying in pain as I blow dried my sheets due to the dampness so I could get into bed.
During this time I was also taken to hospital and spent the night in the resuscitation unit due to a severe asthma attack. It got to the point that I had trouble moving around and had Oz Care services help to come in 3 times a week to help me shower as well as with housework. I still have the service although it was cut off a short time ago because I couldn’t afford to pay. I had to show them that they were facing legal ramifications if they didn’t return my service. My service has returned but housework hours are still being worked out. At present they still come to for social visits with regards to my depression.
I will be on medication for the rest of my life. I spiralled into a yoyoing suicidal depression in 2020. I seriously wanted to die. The only thing keeping me alive was my little dog Amber and the thought of having to put her down. I lived through it to now tell the story and hopefully help others in the process but it wasn’t easy. Amber is a little companion dog that I received to assist me with my PTSD. I still fight depression. My life as I knew it, no longer exists.” Once a dept member called Nicole rang the police to do a welfare check on me. Even the police said off the record that they get sick of this dept causing problems with people and then call them to do a welfare check: not because they care about the tenant, but to cover themselves so that if I did jump off the 4th floor balcony, they could say ‘well we did our best’. When Nicole rang me the next day I told her that even the police know that housing had done this to me, she literally laughed at me and told me that she didn’t care what the police think or say. Suffice to say this only contributed to my depression. Courtney M
Public housing is not covered under the normal protections for tenants in the private market. Courtney made a claim then to Minister’s, Leeanne Enoch's, office for the token sum of a minimum of $20,000 plus the $2500 promised to cover the cost of the removalists. This amount has now increased to a minimum of $25,000 after having another fall in her new premises due to the absolutely ludicrous modification work done, that is basically many accidents waiting to happen. Courtney was, during this time, invited by Senator Nita Green’s office to join the new committee, Labor for Housing which she accepted. When told of her situation, Senator Nita Green and other Labor Party members there informed Courtney that they were sorry that this had happened to her. Courtney then emailed the committee with the information and still Leeanne Enoch has remained quiet. She received no response. When putting her name down to be part of the committee, or regional sub committee, Courtney was told a good while later that she was no longer a member of the Labor Party. This was an administration error – or that is what Courtney was informed of when she made inquiries. Courtney was readmitted as a Labor Party member immediately. It was extremely upsetting to her because she has been Labor all of her life since the age of 18. Courtney would be a very powerful voice for those who suffer at the hands of this dept. as she understands it from the inside out and, as a member of the United Nations (AAQ), she has had many tenants who have approached her to try to get help to fight this dept. The Minister for Communities and Housing, Minister for Digital Economy and Minister for the Arts, Leeanne Enoch simply does not care, as is apparent by the gross lack of response or care in Courtney’s case. These people know that tenants in public housing cannot afford to sue in a court of law, be it civil or criminal.
The former Minister for Housing, Mick De Brenni, sent Courtney a Deed of Agreement for a nominal settlement sum less than 5% of the financial loss Courtney suffered from the TMS. It was estimated at a compensation cost of approximately $200,000. $5000 was offered. Information in the deed was wrong, including addresses where Courtney had never lived. These areas included places over 100 kilometres away from the Sunshine Coast where Courtney resides. Courtney told the Minister the deed was incorrect and refused the settlement sum. Courtney isn’t uneducated. She is currently completing her 9th degree. She entered into government housing initially through being on police protection. Minister Mick de Brenni, then refused any further communication. It would have effectively been illegal for Courtney to sign a legal document knowing without doubt, that it contained false and misleading information. This means that Mick de Brenni, expected her to break the law which would have served to make any argument Courtney had in a court of law null and void, whether in a civil or criminal court.
Courtney also contacted Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk in her role as the Premier to intervene. Courtney received a typed reply informing her that as Ms Palaszczuk was the Minister for Trade (at the time of writing), that she couldn’t possibly intervene in another Minister’s portfolio. This is ludicrous to say the least as Courtney was contacting her as the Premier, a Premier of which Courtney had helped campaign and voted for, just as Courtney had helped campaign for and financially contribute to Leeanne Enoch and other Labor minister’s campaigns over many years. Courtney, understandably felt disillusioned by, the very people she had supported for so many years. Courtney was also told in a rude, abrupt fashion by one of Premier Palaszczuk’s ‘receptionists’ that if Courtney made this issue public, she would be reported as a danger to the Premier. This is absolutely absurd.
Courtney also contacted her local Labor Member for Nickin, Robert Skelton who never bothered to reply either.
Since then, Courtney was continually told that the paperwork was just being sorted and finalised.
As she is entitled to do, Courtney kept asking for copies of evidence the Department had, and was repeatedly told “it's being worked on”. When the statute of limitations expired, the Department told her they weren't paying compensation, “so sue us”, knowing her claim was statute barred. They also deliberately destroyed evidence such as photographic evidence and reports of the mould problem. The official response was that this part of her file had been “misplaced”, yet the remainder of her file existed. It does not take Courtney’s intelligence or education to find this response ludicrous.
Fiona Simpson MP asked questions in Parliament about Courtney’s case, and wrote to both Mick de Brenni and Leeanne Enoch with no substantive reply from either Leeanne Enoch or Mick De Brenni. Fiona Simpson MP is the only Minister who has tried her best to assist Courtney on and off over a four year period.
Courtney and other residents like her deserve an explanation of the Ministers’ and the Department’s conduct. They deserve compensation for their financial loss and provision for future medical expenses. Tenants have given up in exasperation, given up because they have been too ill to keep fighting or they have sadly passed away. All deserve to be protected by exactly the same protections as in the private market, not unprotected by rules and regulations that are fully in the Dept’s favour. Ministers such as Leeanne Enoch, Mick de Brenni and Annastacia Palaszczcuk, along with Robert Skelton, need to be held accountable for their lack of response to issues surrounding these types of problems.
Good governance is accountable governance for all. Tenants go into and live in public/social housing for a variety of reasons. In Courtney’s case it was from a protection point of view, after the police had helped keep her safe. Whatever the initial reasons, it’s time to start treating our public/social housing tenants with much more respect than they currently are, whether we are government ministers or general members of the public and regardless of which political party we may belong to. What has happened to Courtney (and others over time), is not only corrupt but criminal. It is also a human rights abuses issue.
Courtney McGregor Contact the author of the petition
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