CPSA WAS contacted by a Member who lives in public housing in Abbottsford in Sydney’s Inner West. He hadn’t seen his neighbour for some time. He describes his neighbour as a “hermit”, so he didn’t immediately twig there might be something wrong.
But after a while he did, because his neighbour’s balcony door and kitchen window had remained open overnight for a few days. He decided to sound the alarm and rang 000 on a Saturday in April.
000 put him through to Burwood police station, where he was told that police needed permission from family or Housing NSW to go into his neighbour’s apartment.
He tried to contact Housing NSW, but it was the weekend. He could not contact anyone.
On the following Monday, he rang Housing NSW in Burwood, but he says they refused to put him through to the relevant manager. He sent them a fax instead.
At around 5pm that Monday, while nothing was happening, he decided to ring Housing NSW in Ashfield, where he got a better response: they alerted police and the fire brigade.
They discovered that the tenant was dead.
They also discovered that the power to the unit and also the phone had been cut off.
It is obvious that, despite a number of the lonely death stories breaking over the past few years, the authorities still haven’t got their act together to prevent recurrences of people lying dead in their house for prolonged periods of time.
In this case, power and phone had been cut off, sure signs that there might be something wrong.
And where was Housing NSW in all this?
Shouldn’t there be a seven-day-a-week, 24 hour hotline for this?
Shouldn’t 000 offer a better response than just putting the notifier through to a police station?