Ombudsman closes accommodation probe

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Ombudsman closes accommodation probe

State Ombudsman Wayne Lines has ended his probe into a complaint lodged against the Robe District Council earlier this year.

His findings were contained in a letter tabled at the November monthly meeting.

“I am of the view that an investigation is unlikely to collect sufficient information to support a finding of maladministration in this matter, and do not consider that further enquiries would be in the public interest,” Mr Lines said.

In essence, a complainant had queried a senior council staff member being given accommodation in the Casuarina Lodge public housing complex earmarked for the elderly at a time when a wait list existed.

Furthermore, the propriety of council appointing a real estate agent to manage this public housing complex was also questioned.

Casuarina Lodge is a group of small home units in a cul-de-sac which was erected in the centre of Robe by the SA Housing Trust a few decades ago.

Management of the complex later passed to the local council.

However, Mr Lines noted the Casuarina Lodge public accommodation complex had not explicitly been set aside for the elderly and a so-called “wait list” was not a correct description.

The State Ombudsman felt it was appropriate for Robe District Council to outsource property management as its staff did not have these skills.

Acting chief executive Pauline Koritsa said the letter from Mr Lines should prompt the Robe District Council to consider various matters relating to Casuarina Lodge.

“While the Ombudsman report finds no wrong-doing on Robe District Council’s behalf, it does raise some interesting questions with respect to the management of Casuarina Lodge,” Ms Koritsa said.

“What is the intended purpose of Casuarina Lodge, should the council retain Casuarina Lodge given there is no internal expertise to manage the facility, what is the cost of holding Casuarina Lodge, should a criteria be developed to assist in selecting prospective tenants or should Casuarina Lodge be used to house staff?

“Robe District Council is attempting to attract to vacant positions but accommodation options for these staff is limited, is Casuarina Lodge a cost neutral proposition etc.?

“While no decisions can be made at it, a workshop to consider these matters appears to be necessary to guide the future direction and operation of Casuarina Lodge.”

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