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Question: Rent Discrimination for Low Income Earners

28 September 2022

 

 

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question without notice to the Attorney-General on the topic of rental stress.

Leave granted.

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: Yesterday, the Anti-Poverty Network released the results of their survey of low income renters in South Australia. The results showed that 64 per cent of low income renters felt that they were discriminated against when applying for rentals, mostly due to being a recipient of Centrelink payments. The Anti-Poverty Network has called for strengthening basic standards and protections for tenants in South Australia.

My questions to the Attorney-General are:

1. Is the Attorney-General concerned that people on low incomes feel they are being discriminated against when trying to secure rental accommodation in South Australia?

2. What action is the government taking to remedy this?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector): I thank the honourable member for his question. It has come up a number of times, and the honourable member has certainly been a very solid advocate for ensuring rental affordability in South Australia across a range of areas. In terms of discrimination experienced by people in a rental setting, that is one of the significant areas.

I think the report that was tabled yesterday from the equal opportunity commissioner found that accommodation is a significant area of work the equal opportunities commissioner is involved with in the areas of discrimination she looks after. Certainly, there are other areas that the honourable member advocates for and would be aware of where people experience discrimination that are not covered by the Equal Opportunity Act. It is of concern when people are discriminated against in a whole range of areas.

I might talk to the honourable member regarding whether he has suggestions about how we can make improvements, maybe not necessarily through legislative changes but through policy or through other ways where we might be able to improve the experience of people seeking rental accommodation.

 

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: Supplementary: the minister referenced the commissioner's report. Is the minister able to advise what remedies are currently available in terms of action that people can take if they are facing discrimination in the rental market? If he is not able to provide the answer today will he undertake to do so on notice?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector): I thank the honourable member for his question. The primary focus of action taken by the equal opportunities commissioner is conciliation. I don't have the statistics in front of me, but a large percentage of complaints are resolved through the consultation process. I am happy to go away and find out the percentages and other remedies available.

 

 

In reply to the Hon. R.A. SIMMS (Reply given 1/11/22)

 

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector): I have been advised:

If a tenant or prospective tenant considers that they have been discriminated against on the basis of any one or more of the grounds set out in the Equal Opportunity Act 1983, they can lodge a complaint with the Office of the Commissioner for Equal Opportunity who will assess and, where applicable, conduct a conciliation process.

For discrimination on grounds outside of the Equal Opportunity Act, there are advocacy services such as RentRight, which is free and independent, and provide support when applying for a lease, and can assist prospective tenants with accessing legal and other services as required.