Smashed bottles on the street, rock-throwing, property damage, rampant verbal abuse — these are the terrors residents of a Kalgoorlie-Boulder neighbourhood at their wits’ end claim they face on a weekly basis.
One year ago, Boulder’s Cavalier Crescent was the kind of place where Teresa Millan was happy to let her two boys out to play.
Now with a third child on the way, Ms Millan, like most residents within eyesight of one public house on their street, fears for her own safety when she steps outside. “I have been here eight years and have never had to close my gates,” she said.
“Now at night-time I have to padlock my gates — I don’t feel I should have to do that.
“When I am here alone with the two boys, especially at (2am) in the morning, it is pretty scary them coming into my yard.”
Since February when new tenants moved in to one of the houses, neighbour Greg Ocinski says cops have responded to more than 100 call-outs.
Department of Communities regional and remote communities director-general Rachael Green said the department had disruptive behaviour procedures in place to provide clients an early opportunity to resolve tenancy issues and modify behaviour.
“The Department of Communities is acutely aware of the concerns of neighbours and has been working intensively with the client across Communities and with other agencies to resolve the situation,” she said.
“Where tenancies are at risk of failing, clients are assisted with referrals to support services and, where appropriate, are encouraged to apply for liquor restrictions. Participation in support services is voluntary, and clients must be willing to engage and modify their behaviour.
“The Disruptive Behaviour Management Strategy provides clarity for clients and the broader community regarding the consequences of continued serious and ongoing disruptive behaviour, applied though a ‘three strikes’ process.”
Ms Green said the department was considering its options after this week completing an investigation into the property in question.
“At any time we have bottles being thrown over the fence, rocks being thrown at us, vehicles being damaged or broken into,”
The department’s comments are little solace for Mr Ocinski. He shares a fence with the problem house and has a file full of complaints which he said had gone unresolved.
The situation his street has faced for 11 months, Mr Ocinski said, showed the department’s three strikes policy was not working.
“These people have ticked just about every disruptive behaviour, every dangerous behaviour box you could imagine from a neighbour other than burning the house down, and we see no action,” he said.
“We hear things are in progress, but we still have to live this every day.”
Mr Ocinski promotes Kalgoorlie-Boulder through his trike tours, but says he always worries about his house while out selling the region.
“We have group now where people log in to say when they are going down to the shop just to buy a loaf of bread or get some KFC because they are scared of leaving their houses,” he said.
“Everybody surrounding that house is in fear of their property and of their safety.
“We are just talking about utter mayhem. At any time we have bottles being thrown over the fence, rocks being thrown at us, vehicles being damaged or broken into.”
On the other side of the house is Craig West.
He moved from Sydney last month seeking a quiet country retreat while caring for his elderly mother.
Mr West, who said he had lived in areas of Sydney notorious for “guns, stabbings and drugs”, said he had never seen anything like what he was going through now.
“It would have been day two, still moving in, and we were attacked. That was our welcome,” he said.
“The inaction taken here though, nothing happens, it just goes around and around.
“We would not have moved here if we knew it was this bad.”
Mr West’s landlord is Amanda Saxby, who bought the property with her partner as a first home 14 years ago.
“Back in 2005 we were in our early 20s and there would be kids riding up and down the street every afternoon after school,” she said.
With the current tenants seeking an early exit, Mrs Saxby now fears her investment property is unleasable.
“I feel let down as a homeowner that the department, who were aware of these disturbances, they advised the homeowners/tenants via letterbox drop ... why wasn’t I advised?” she said.
“Even our property manager ... wasn’t aware of any of this, why wasn’t she advised?
“I’ve been advised from the real estate agent that for every tenancy in the future they will have to be advised of these disturbances.
“I have been told from the real estate agent that the value of my property has decreased at least $100,000”
Ms Saxby said she had made a complaint to the department, but her case was closed after being told she could not provide evidence of the incident.
“Communities investigates all complaints of disruptive behaviour, obtaining as much information as possible, including independent verification from police, neighbours and witnesses where appropriate,” Ms Green said.
“When complaints are corroborated by evidence, strikes are issued based on the outcome of investigations and the severity of disruptive behaviour. Strikes cannot be appealed.
“When a public housing tenancy receives the maximum number of strikes under the Disruptive Behaviour Management Strategy, the department commences court action to end the tenancy.
“Any decision to evict is made by the magistrate.”
The department was unable to provide figures on the number of complaints or call-outs to the property.