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Our trust has been abused

03 Jul 2012

Our trust has been abused Image

By Shane Scanlan

Housing Choices Australia (HCA) has abused the trust that Docklands placed in it a year ago when we embraced The Mariner building into our community.

The Mariner is a complex of 113 apartments at the end of Docklands Drive in NewQuay West, in which 85 units are owned by HCA as social housing.

When the building was opened last August, the HCA’s chief executive at the time Michael Lennon said: “For our tenants at The Mariner, we hope they find their way home to a place which is safe.”

“We want it to be indistinguishable from the rest of the market,” Mr Lennon said at the time.  “It’s important for the children living here that their place is no different to the rest of the community.”

As it turns out, Housing Choices Australia is harbouring a man who has been terrorising the Docklands community.

This man is accused of exposing himself, making threats to kill and extreme sexual harassment.

HCA staff refuse to discuss the case, claiming its client’s right to confidentiality is the dominant paradigm.  

Last month we published a letter from a Dockland’s resident who feared the HCA’s tenant was going to potentially rape or kill her.

Docklands News understands that NewQuay precinct management has attempted to raise the problem with HCA but has been told that the organisation takes no responsibility for its tenant once he is outside of its property.

In May, Housing Choices Australia told Docklands News it had maintained its obligations to the Docklands’ community under residential tenancy legislation.

Last month a 20-year-old Docklander made a formal complaint to police about the man.

The young woman said she was terrified when the man boarded the number 86 tram into the city at the corner of Spencer and LaTrobe streets.

She said the man sat next to her, made obscene suggestions and effectively trapped her in her seat – later refusing to let her pass when she wanted to alight in the city.

“He put his leg up, so I could not get past,” she said. “When I asked whether I could get past, he smiled and said ‘no’.”

She said, when she attempted to climb over him at her stop, he grabbed her from behind, ripped her jacket and flung her to the floor of the tram. The woman said she sustained bruising to her hands and knees but managed to escape.

She said she was assisted by Yarra Trams staff who told her: “This guy is a psycho.”

Current HCA chief executive Rosemary Hartnett told Docklands News: “Your article alleges that a person, whom you claim is one of our tenants, harasses other people in the Docklands precinct.  We take such allegations seriously, not just for the victims of such behaviour but also to ensure that all of our tenants in our two developments are able to live in a safe community.”

“We strongly encourage all residents of Docklands to report all such incidents of harassment to the police without delay.”

“If a tenant of ours acted in the manner alleged in your article whilst in the foyer, hallways or units themselves, then this would be a breach of their tenancy.  In those circumstances we would take the appropriate steps under the tenancy agreement and residential tenancies legislation.”

“Where harassment takes place outside of our property, we have no legal authority to take any action against the person involved, even where that person is a tenant of ours.  In this respect, we are no different to any other private landlord in the Docklands.  Such matters are appropriately the responsibility of the police.”

“Your article also mentions that we have refused to discuss the circumstances of particular tenants on the basis that client confidentiality was a ‘dominant paradigm’.  Client confidentiality is more than this – we are under a legal obligation not to disclose any information relating to our clients.”

The woman is an immigrant from South Africa.  She said had lived under a threat of violence her whole life and had moved to Australia to escape it.

But, never had she experienced fear like when taking the tram to the city.

“I’m too nervous to get on a tram now,” she said. “I moved here to get away from violence. Something has got to be done about this guy.  He will really hurt someone.”

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  • miss x at 2:31pm on 05/07/12

    are you f****** serious any wonder the country is the way it is "protect the evil"...someone should take action into their own hands and then whats the bet the innocent will be named and shamed! this is ludicrous he is making threats to KILL...lock him up and throw away the key! Disgusting! I bet if someone's daughter (someone from The HCA) was attacked something would be done then!

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