Local accommodation committees
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 124 No 1, 15 February 2019, page no. 23
Local accommodation committees (LACs) are crucial to ensuring that that housing requests, maintenance and allocations can be dealt with locally with local knowledge. Yet many LACs are operating in name only.
The localised approach, first secured by the QTU decades ago, now needs significant re-vitalisation. It is surprising how many tenants don’t know their rights and how many LACs are not working as intended.
There has been no significant substantive training of local accommodation officers (LAO) for years. In 2018, one LAO indicated that he had been doing the role for seven years without any training. The documents that LAOs and committee members can refer to are out of date and weighty. Skype training offered through regions last year was technocratic in focus and didn’t attract strong participation.
Local members are best placed to tackle this problem. Let’s ensure LACs are up and functioning consultatively. To start with, here are the facts.
Local accommodation committees – the basics
The department’s Employee Housing Management: Guidelines and Procedures state:
A local accommodation committee should be established in all centres with one or more multi-tenancy dwellings provided for accommodation of departmental employees. Where there is no requirement for a committee to be established, then the incumbent principal of that centre fulfils the role.
A responsible officer (either the outgoing local accommodation officer, the principal or the employees’ industrial representative) must call a general meeting open to all permanent departmental employees in the centre at least annually.
The purpose of this meeting is to:
A. consider the composition of the local accommodation committee
B. determine the procedure for the subsequent election process
C. the LAC must be large enough to ensure that all stakeholders are represented but must not be so big that it is unmanageable.
At the first meeting of a newly convened local accommodation committee, a local accommodation officer must be elected as chairperson and administrator of the committee. At this meeting, the frequency of meetings and procedural arrangements for the committee must be established. It is recommended that meetings are held quarterly, with mandatory meetings at the end of each semester to coincide with periods where movement into housing is expected to be high. Meetings must be held each time allocations are done.
Local accommodation committee members should be aware of any local potential for conflict of interest in the housing allocation and should take all necessary steps to ensure probity.
Direction is also provided on the membership of the LAC, noting that it must have a majority of employees who are occupants of departmental provided housing, that they be elected to the committee and that the committee should reflect cross-sectional. An LAC must include a local school principal. Page 10 of the Employee Housing Management – Guidelines and Procedures details the responsibilities of the LAC.