Equal Opportunity Commissioner asked to investigate new Homeswest strategy
11 July 2011
Greens MLC Alison Xamon has written to the Equal Opportunities Commissioner Yvonne Henderson, asking her to investigate how Homeswest’s Disruptive Behaviour Management Strategy impacts the mentally ill and those with a disability.
“I consider this ‘strategy’ and the way it is implemented to be indirectly discriminatory to the mentally ill and people with disabilities, specifically those who have suffered an acquired brain injury. The policy wants to make people accountable for their behavior yet in many circumstances the nature of their illness or disability prevents this. Clearly then to fail to recognise this is discrimination,” Ms Xamon, Greens WA spokesperson for Mental Health and Disabilities said today.
Ms Xamon’s letter was in response to revelations that a mentally ill man had been evicted from his Homewest residence following psychotic episodes. Since raising the matter in Parliament Ms Xamon has begun receiving dozens of calls in relation to similar cases.
“Since the policy ‘tightening’ in May of this year, a large amount of discretion has been removed from the public service staff in Homeswest. As a result of this, individuals in the grip of an acute psychotic episode, or struggling with a permanent impairment, are being treated as if they were fully responsible for their actions. People need to be capable of taking responsibility for their behavior, and many people with mental illness or disability are not capable of that.
“The effect of this tightened policy is problematic for these people and their families. The Tenants Advisory Service and various Mental Health and Disability NGO’s are collecting information about mentally ill or disabled people who have either lost their homes or who are at risk of losing their home due to the way this policy is being implemented.
“I have been in contact with the family of a constituent who, as a result of suffering a psychotic episode and recent complaints about his behaviour as his condition worsened, is now at serious risk of losing his Homeswest accommodation.
“Homeswest officers began the processes to remove my constituent from his home very shortly after he was moved from Sir Charles Gardener Hospital to Graylands Mental Hospital. While in a locked ward at Graylands, Homeswest staff advised him that he either needed to leave his house voluntarily, or he would be evicted.
“At the date of writing the letter to the Commissioner, Homeswest was continuing with the eviction proceedings against my constituent.
“The enforcement of the Disruptive Behaviour Management Strategy with no regard for a person’s status as mentally ill is discriminatory. It assumes levels of control over behaviour that a person who is acutely psychotic cannot be expected to have.
“It unfairly and unreasonably requires Homeswest to make vulnerable members of our society homeless,” added Ms Xamon. “I call on the Minister for Housing to urgently revise his hasty and ill-thought out initiative and recognise that as Minister it is not his job to make people homeless.”
Hon Alison Xamon MLC
Member for the East Metropolitan Region
Office: 62 Eighth Ave Maylands WA 6051
Postal Address: PO Box 104 Maylands WA 6931
Phone: (08) 9272 1718
Fax: (08) 9272 1719
Portfolios: Water, Urban Bushland, Mental Health, Education, Training, Industrial Relations, Employment, Occupational Health & Safety, Disabilities, Women, Children & Youth, Public Service, Community Services,Electoral Affairs, Consumer Protection, Vet Affairs, Volunteering