A woman caring for three of her grandchildren at the request of child protection authorities faces an uncertain future after losing her rental home and being turned down for priority State housing.
In a case which threw Perth’s rental crisis into the election spotlight, Diane Robinson said today she was “extremely desperate and scared” and appealed for the Government to intervene.
In 2010 Ms Robinson was asked by the Department of Child Protection to look after her daughter’s three children, Levi, 9, and twins Ella and Lachlan, 4, in an “informal arrangement” after their mother was unable to.
Her daughter has since had fourth child, five months ago, which she wanted to take out of State care and also raise.
Ms Robinson said after quitting a well-paid resources job in Karratha and leaving a subsequent job in Perth because of the children’s needs, she survived on $650 a week from Centrelink and living rent-free in a family friend’s home.
However, the home needed to be sold and she had nowhere to live as of March 31.
Ms Robinson said despite letters of support from the Department of Child Protection and Health Department, her application to the Department of Housing for priority help was knocked back this month.
In the decision, which she has appealed, the department said she “had viable housing options in the private market”.
Ms Robinson said private rentals were $400-450 a week, which, even with potentially $80 extra from Centrelink, she could not afford.
“I don’t want hand-outs,” she said. “I just want affordable housing so I can continue to provide the love, the care and the support that my grandchildren need.”
State Opposition leader Mark McGowan said the case was evidence of “a massive crisis within the Department of Housing”.
“I can’t imagine a higher priority situation than a grandparent who has taken on responsibility for her grandkids,” he said. “This is a massive failure of administration.”
Mr McGowan said Ms Robinson’s actions, while done for love, saved the Government money otherwise needed if the three children were in State care.
However, Housing Minister Terry Redman said while sympathetic to Ms Robinson’s situation, there was extremely high demand for public housing and it would be unfair to put applicants with housing options on the priority list.
As of December 31 there were 47,174 people on the waitlist, with average waiting times of 132 weeks or 63 weeks for priority cases.
“There are many people on the priority waiting list also facing difficult circumstances, who have waited an extended period of time,” Mr Redman said.