Housing Pathways

Social Housing Assistance Policy for Registrable Persons

Policy Last Amended: 5 June 2017

Housing Pathways Social Housing Providers receive a number of applications for housing assistance from persons who are on the NSW Child Protection Register and have been convicted of sexual and/or violent offences against children. The role of those Social Housing Providers is to provide housing assistance to eligible applicants/tenants so they can live with dignity, access support if needed and achieve sustainable tenancies.

All people applying for housing assistance, including Registrable Persons, are entitled to access safe, decent and affordable housing opportunities. Registrable Persons have the same right to be treated fairly and without discrimination as all applicants for social housing assistance in NSW.

This policy outlines the Housing Pathways Social Housing Sector’s role in the provision of housing for Registrable Persons.

1. Background

The Housing Pathways Social Housing Sector recognises that permanent, secure and appropriate housing can assist in reducing re-offending for all offenders, including Registrable Persons.

Research shows that there is a clear association between unstable housing and reoffending. An integrated and consistent approach involving secure and appropriate housing coupled with support can reduce reoffending rates for this client group.

Many offenders, including Registrable Persons have complex needs and many require support and access to treatment and services in order to integrate or reintegrate into the community and to sustain their tenancy. This support is provided by a range of government human service agencies and non government agencies.

Justice and Law Enforcement agencies have a key role to play in the management of

Registrable Persons in the community and are responsible for:

  • the processes involved in identifying a Registrable Person
  • assessing the risk of a Registrable Person to the community/risk of reoffending
  • ensuring that appropriate strategies are implemented to manage this risk.

Some Registrable Persons living in the community have specific requirements identified by Justice and Law Enforcement agencies, particularly in relation to the most appropriate location for them to reside.

Participating Social Housing Providers need to work in partnership with Justice and Law Enforcement agencies such as the NSW Police Force and Corrective Services NSW to be able to appropriately meet the specific housing requirements of this client group.

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2. Aims and Objectives

Housing Pathways Social Housing Providers in NSW will provide appropriate housing assistance to eligible Registrable Persons consistent with the specific requirements identified by Justice and Law Enforcement agencies.

Social Housing Providers will meet the following objectives in relation to Registrable Persons:

  • applications from Registrable Persons will be assessed consistent with existing social housing policies and procedures
  • housing options will be provided to eligible Registrable Persons consistent with Justice and Law Enforcement agencies’ policies and procedures for Registrable Persons
  • the exchange of information between organisations will be consistent with existing relevant policies and legislation
  • strong collaborative arrangements will be developed and maintained with Justice and Law Enforcement agencies
  • where applicable, Social Housing Providers may negotiate with support providers and relevant agencies for the  support required to enable a Registrable Person to sustain their tenancy

Principles to guide service delivery:

  • social housing assistance is provided to Registrable Persons based on eligibility and availability of appropriate options
  • the offending history or status of an applicant/tenant should neither advantage nor disadvantage their access to social housing assistance except as to the suitability of particular locations and where an offence is committed in or around social housing premises
  • the exchange of information between agencies needs to acknowledge the Registrable Person’s right to privacy and confidentiality
  • a collaborative approach will be undertaken with other government and non government agencies/organisations to develop strong partnerships in providing social housing assistance and support to Registrable Persons in the community

Notwithstanding anything in the Eligibility for Social Housing Policy, a client may be ineligible for housing assistance (including social housing, temporary accommodation and private rental assistance) if:

  • He or she has a history of having committed registrable offences, and
  • It is likely that the provision of social housing will:
    • cause nuisance and annoyance, or
    • present an unacceptable risk of harm to the client, to other occupants of the building where the client is located or to neighbours.

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3. Registrable Persons

This policy applies to all clients who apply for any form of social housing assistance or who are existing social housing tenants, or members of social housing households and who are Registrable Persons.

A Registrable Person is defined as a person who has committed a sexual and/or violent offence against young people (under 18 years of age). As part of their sentence these offenders are required to be on the Child Protection Register which is administered and managed by the NSW Police Force, Child Protection Registry (CPR). The Child Protection Register is established under the Child Protection (Offender Registration) Act 2000.

Registration of offenders who commit crimes against young people

The Child Protection (Offenders Registration) Act 2000 applies to persons sentenced for a violent or sexual offence against young people. If a person committed an offence against a young person but their sentence was completed (including parole) before 15 October 2001, they will not be on the Child Protection Register. If a person committed an offence after 15 October 2001 or their sentence extends past this date then they will be on the Register, and known as a Registrable Person.

The period of registration is for a minimum of eight years and up to life for an adult and four years and up to 7.5 years for a juvenile offender.

All reporting periods are determined by the Child Protection Registry and depend on the class and number of offences committed.

The Act also allows a Court to make an order for an offender to be Registrable if found guilty of a non class one or two offence but still seen as threat to young people, known as a Registration Order.

There are a number of specific legal requirements which apply to Registrable Persons. They must report to their NSW Police Force Local Area Command (LAC) and provide all personal details to the LAC Crime Manager including:

  • Name, date of birth and address.
  • The names and ages of children who they generally reside with or have unsupervised contact with.
  • If the person is employed, their employment details.
  • Affiliation with clubs/organisations with child membership.
  • Details of any car owned by, or generally driven by, the person.
  • Details of any tattoos or permanent distinguishing marks.
  • Regular interstate travel arrangements.
  • Details of any email addresses and any other electronic communication identifiers.

Registrable Persons must also report annually to the NSW Police Force.

The Child Protection Watch Team (CPWT) is a NSW Government initiative led by the NSW Police Force to risk manage some high risk or high profile offenders who are on the Child Protection Register. Signatories to this agreement include; NSW Police Force, Corrective Services NSW, Juvenile Justice, Community Services NSW, Family and Community Services (FACS), Ageing, Disability and Home Care, Department of Education and Training, NSW TAFE Commission, NSW Health and Justice Health.

The purpose of the CPWT is to protect the community from high risk offenders on the Child Protection Register through multi-agency monitoring and risk management of certain high risk sexual and violent offenders against young people, who are “Registrable Persons” and have been released from custody or who are already living in the community. The CPWT also provides a formal structure for the interagency exchange of information in relation to certain high risk Registrable Persons.

The Registrable Persons managed by the CPWT are a small percentage of the total number of Registrable Persons in NSW. This case management approach is reserved for high risk or high profile Registrable Persons only.

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4. Role of the Justice and Law Enforcement Agencies

FACS and Community Housing Providers participating in Housing Pathways are not responsible for assessing risks posed by any offenders in relation to their offending history or status. This responsibility rests with Justice and Law Enforcement agencies, such as the NSW Police Force and Corrective Services NSW.

The NSW Police Force manages the Child Protection Register and as a Law Enforcement agency, they hold the specialist skill and information regarding the risk a Registrable Person may pose to children and young people.

It is the responsibility of the NSW Police Force and/or Corrective Services NSW to advise FACS in relation to the most appropriate location for a Registrable Person.  Many Registrable Persons are not subject to locational requirements.

Corrective Services NSW manage offenders in custody and in the community.

Registrable Persons may also be subject to parole, probation or a community based order and have to report to Corrective Services NSW. For example, Community Corrections officers monitor offenders, convicted of serious sex offences, following the expiry of offenders’ sentences. These offenders are on Extended Supervision Orders issued by the Supreme Court of NSW.

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5. Interagency Guidelines for the Housing of Registrable Persons

Interagency Guidelines for the Housing of Registrable Persons have been jointly developed and endorsed by the NSW Police Force, Corrective Services NSW and FACS. Community Housing Providers are not party to these Guidelines but they are covered in a limited way by the Guidelines.

The Guidelines provide FACS (and through FACS, Community Housing Providers) with information on:

  • Registrable Persons seeking housing assistance in NSW;
  • Principles to guide service delivery for consideration when allocating social housing assistance to a Registrable Person;
  • Roles of the NSW Police Force and Corrective Services NSW and procedures to be followed in relation to information exchange and/or to assist FACS and Community Housing Providers to allocate appropriate accommodation to relevant registrable persons; and
  • The framework for information exchange and management of the information that is exchanged between agencies in relation to Registrable Persons in NSW.

FACS Social Housing Assistance Policy for Registrable Persons is based on these Guidelines and those Guidelines can be found on the Housing Pathways intranet.

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6. FACS Central Coordination Point

The exchange of information in regard to Registrable Persons is critical to Social Housing Providers when allocating or providing appropriate housing assistance to Registrable Persons.

FACS has established a Central Coordination Point within the Housing Services Division. This Central Coordination Point is   responsible for:

  • All direct liaison with the NSW Police Force and Corrective Services regarding Registrable Persons on behalf of FACS and Community Housing Providers
  • Information exchange and coordination of information about Registrable Persons
  • Coordination of suitable allocations of housing assistance to Registrable Persons in consultation with Housing Services Districts and Community Housing Providers, based on advice received from the NSW Police Force and Corrective Services NSW.

This centralised approach will ensure that sensitive information is limited only to delegated staff and is consistent with other successful housing strategies across Australia and overseas.

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7. Housing Assistance

The role of Social Housing Providers is to provide stable and appropriate housing options to eligible Registrable Persons consistent with existing policies and procedures, and to provide that housing assistance consistent with the specific requirements identified by Justice and Law Enforcement agencies.

Registrable Persons who are assessed as eligible for social housing assistance may access the full range of housing products and services available including:

  • Public and Community Housing leases
  • all private rental assistance products
  • temporary accommodation, including emergency temporary accommodation
  • Private Rental Subsidy assistance.

In some circumstances where the NSW Police Force or Corrective Services NSW has a significant interest in where the Registrable Person should reside, the private rental market or public housing is the preferred option.

The private rental market offers greater flexibility in terms of location and housing assistance while public housing will allow ease of information exchange with the NSW Police Force. Should Community Housing providers become directly covered by a full information exchange arrangement with the NSW Police Force and Corrective Services then those providers will also become a preferred option for providing housing assistance to Registrable Persons of significant interest.

Registrable Persons may present and apply for housing assistance by:

  • online via www.housingpathways.nsw.gov.au, by phone on 1800 422 322 or by accessing their local FACS office or participating community housing provider.
  • submitting an application for social housing whilst in custody
  • submitting an application from an existing support program such as a Community Offender Support Program centre (COSP).

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7.1 Identification of Registrable Persons

Social Housing Providers will become aware of Registrable Persons in a number of ways:

  • Clients are asked to state whether they have any locational requirements or issues that may affect where they can live, as part of the application process.
  • Another agency (i.e. support provider) may inform the Social Housing Provider about a Registrable Person.

Registrable Persons may also be existing social housing tenants or additional occupants of an existing social housing tenancy.

When the Social Housing Provider becomes aware that a person applying for or currently residing in social housing is or may be a Registrable Person contact must be made with the FACS Central Coordination Point.

The Central Coordination Point will then liaise with the NSW Police Force and Corrective Services to determine if the Police or Corrective Services have a ‘significant interest’ in where that person may live in the community.

7.2 Specific Locational Requirements

Registrable Persons may have certain restrictions or locational requirements placed upon them as part of their Registration or as part of their sentence.

Registrable Persons who are also under the supervision of Corrective Services may be subject to a location restriction as part of their parole order which means they may not reside within 500 metres of a school, park, playground, sports field or bus stop.

For clients who are subject to Corrective Service’ 500 metre restriction, Community Offender Services (formerly Probation and Parole) will work with FACS through the Central Coordination Point to find the most suitable location for such clients. Corrective Services NSW may also issue exemptions to the 500 metre restriction in some circumstances.

In geographic areas where there is only Community Housing, applications and allocations will be dealt with on a case by case basis through the FACS Central Coordination Point.

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7.3 Allocation

At the time of allocation the Central Coordination Point will have been notified in writing from the NSW Police Force or Corrective Services, whether there are any locational requirements or significant interest in where the client should reside in the community.

If the NSW Police Force or Corrective Services indicates that they have significant interest in where the client should reside then the client should be housed in the private rental market or in public housing. This is as far as the current Housing Assistance Guidelines for Registrable Person’s operate in respect of Community Housing Providers. The Central Coordination Point will liaise with the relevant Housing Services Division and the NSW Police Force or Corrective Services NSW in relation to the final allocation/housing assistance.

Local demographic information provided by the relevant Housing Services District may also be taken into account by the NSW Police Force or Corrective Services when determining if a location is suitable. This may include:

  • Location of other Registrable Persons
  • Other vulnerable client groups

For Registrable Persons, whom the Police or Corrective Services have not indicated a significant interest in where they reside, these clients should be housed consistent with Pathways polices and procedures and can be housed in public or community housing or the private rental market. So in these situations, the Guidelines directly affect Community Housing Providers.

Once advice has been received by the NSW Police Force or Corrective Services and an appropriate allocation has been determined, the offer of housing assistance can be done at the local level.

Access to any information about Registrable Persons must be secured in Client Confidential Containers to protect the applicant’s privacy and safety.

Advice should also be sought from the Central Coordination Point for all future allocations to that individual including:

  • transfer requests
  • relocations
  • mutual exchange
  • requests for additional occupants, or
  • recognition as a tenant.

If a Social Housing Provider is aware of a client’s status as a Registrable Person and provides a private rental product to that person (Rentstart etc) formal written advice should be provided to the Central Coordination Point in FACS who will inform the NSW Police Force or Corrective Services NSW of the client and the service provided.

7.4 Rescinding or withdrawing an offer of Housing Assistance

If an allocation is made, and the Social Housing Provider subsequently finds out that the person is a Registrable Person, and there is concern about the risks posed, the offer may be rescinded, and advice sought from the NSW Police Force or Corrective Services NSW by the Central Coordination Point about an alternative and more appropriate offer.

7.5 Termination of Tenancy

In some cases (in relation to Registrable Persons) Family and Community Services  (FACS) may invoke Part 7A of the Housing Act 2001 which enables FACS to terminate a Public Housing lease of a Registrable Person if there is risk of harm and upon recommendation by the Commissioner of Police. Community housing leases are not covered by this legislative Act. Community Housing Providers will need to seek advice from the Central Coordination Point in FACS who will then liaise with the NSW Police Force and/or Corrective Services NSW. Based on the information received, Community Housing Providers will need to determine their own course of action.

The NSW Police Force will provide formal written advice to FACS if they believe that a tenant or other household member (either authorised or unauthorised) who is a Registrable Person, should be relocated.

7.6 Ongoing information exchange

Relevant information will continue to be shared and exchanged with the NSW Police Force and Corrective Services as required to ensure that housing assistance is consistent with the tenant’s needs, and the NSW Police Force and Corrective Services NSW policies and procedures governing the monitoring of Registrable Persons in the community.

Social Housing Providers recognise that a Registrable Person’s risk is not static and that circumstances may occur that both decrease and increase their risk. If a Registrable Person’s risk increases and the risk is related to their housing or location, the NSW Police Force or Corrective Services will inform FACS’s Central Coordination Point.

7.7 Specific Support Needs

Some Registrable Persons, like other offenders, often have complex needs that require support. These complex needs may include mental health, substance misuse, and intellectual disabilities. Stable and suitable accommodation is a pivotal part of the reintegration of offenders into the community and support should accompany applications for housing assistance to ensure that Registrable Persons who have complex needs can sustain their tenancy, access specialist support services as well as adhere to any legal mandates imposed upon them.

The role of Social Housing Providers is to assist clients to access support through making appropriate referrals to agencies, and where necessary participate in partnership arrangements. Clients who apply for social housing assistance and have support needs should have a case plan in place that is designed to assist them to sustain their tenancy.

Social Housing Providers should adopt a proactive tenancy management approach for all tenants. However for those tenants who are known to be Registrable Persons, the approach needs to be integrated with the commitment of support from appropriate agencies, and involve ongoing collaboration with Justice and Law Enforcement agencies.

Social Housing Providers must also inform the relevant Justice and Law Enforcement agencies of any issues that may affect a Registrable Person’s tenancy, as homelessness may increase their risk to the community.

8. Recognition as a Tenant

For a client applying for recognition as a tenant, who is identified during that process as a registrable person and the NSW Police Force and/or Corrective Services indicate that the property they currently reside in is unsuitable, that client will not be eligible for a lease (including a provisional lease) for the property they currently reside in. Instead they will be assessed immediately for their entitlement to housing assistance.

People assessed as ineligible for social housing as high risk registrable persons are not eligible for a lease including a provisional lease.

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9. Information Exchange

FACS is the legal owner of information on the Housing Register about a client. FACS will formally provide information to NSW Police and Corrective Services on all applicants, tenants and additional occupants (regardless of the product or service they are applying for) who disclose their status as a Registrable Person or who disclose other information which leads a Social Housing Provider  to believe there may be risks.

The principle piece of legislation that currently governs the exchange of information is Chapter 16A of the Children’s and Young Persons Care and Protection Act 1998. Under this legislation, FACS, Community Housing Providers and other agencies can exchange information that relates to the protection of children and young people. Sections 19BA and 21E of the Child Protection (Offenders Registration) Act 2000 also have provisions for sharing information in regard to Registrable Persons.

When Social Housing Providers are requesting or sharing information with agencies in relation to Registrable Persons, there must be a lawful reason to do so. It is not necessary for a Social Housing Provider to request or have access to offence histories or conviction information. Any information exchanged should be restricted information that is of relevance to the Social Housing Provider in relation to the provision of housing assistance.

The Central Coordination Point will seek to ensure that only lawful and relevant information is disclosed to ensure the privacy and confidentiality of the individual is respected. Client consent is not required to exchange information in relation to appropriate housing assistance for Registrable Persons.

10. Community Strategies

Social Housing Providers support interagency initiatives to educate communities about offender issues including the rights of offenders to live in stable housing and the counter-productive nature of vigilantism.

Social Housing Providers will work collaboratively with the NSW Police Force and Corrective Services in relation to negative community reaction when a Registrable Person is exposed by the community or the media.

Social Housing Providers will support interagency initiatives to promote a whole-of-government approach to reducing reoffending and homelessness which aligns with NSW Government priorities, including improving community safety within the social housing sector.

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www.facs.nsw.gov.au