Tenancy WA receives funding to support family violence education program

Tenancy WA solicitor Kate Davis with Commerce and Industrial Relations Minister Bill Johnston.
Tenancy WA solicitor Kate Davis with Commerce and Industrial Relations Minister Bill Johnston.

TENANCY WA has received $50,000 to train community workers to help tenants escape family violence situations.

The State Government funding relates to a proposed change to residential tenancy legislation, which the Lower House passed in June.

Tenancy WA and the Women’s Council will educate tenant advocates, community lawyers and refuge workers about the legal options to exit a tenancy within seven days for family violence reasons, or remove a perpetrator from the lease by applying to the courts.

Principal solicitor Kate Davis said Tenancy WA had campaigned for changes to the law and regularly saw tenants needing to escape family and domestic violence.

“The financial support (will) ensure tenant advocates and refuge workers are being educated and can use their learning to help tenants escape abusive relationships and avoid homelessness,” she said.

A tenant and family violence survivor, who did not wish to be named, told Consumer Protection she thought the education program would make a difference.

“I left my rental home after my violent ex broke in,” she said.

“I needed to go somewhere that was safe.

“There was proof of what had happened – I had a Violence Restraining Order against him and the police had been involved.

“But my landlord didn’t want me to leave the tenancy and wanted money for the rent until a new tenant was found.

“I went to my local community legal centre for help because my landlord is taking me to court.

“My tenant advocate had done a workshop about these law changes and told me about them.

“Even though the new rental laws aren’t here soon enough for me, it’s really important for community workers to know about them and then they can help clients in the near future.”

The proposed tenancy law change may start in November.

Commerce and Industrial Relations Minister Bill Johnston said the law reform was “unashamedly victim-focused”.

“It’s vital community workers know about the new laws so they can help tenants escape abusive relationships,” he said.

“Tenant advocates make a huge difference and can help prevent homelessness for their clients.”

For more information, visit www.dmirs.wa.gov.au/familyviolence .