Lucrative public housing cleaning contracts prolonged despite fines

by Lionel Casey

A corporation paid tens of millions of dollars to keep Victoria’s most hassle-plagued public housing estates turned into again and again awarded authorities contracts notwithstanding being fined multiple instances for “negligent” service.

GJK Facility Services has held six contracts because 2007 to clean public housing throughout Melbourne. Its trendy settlement changed into quietly prolonged in 2018 for another year.

The relatively worthwhile business closing 12 months helped the corporation – that is owned via two humans – turn over a revenue of $128 million and publish a profit of $5 million.

But documents released via a Freedom of Information request show GJK was frequently chastised for its work, especially at South Melbourne’s Park Towers estate.

The FOI request turned into initially denied through the Department of Health and Human Services and handiest released to former Liberal MP Margaret Fitzherbert after a legal mission.

The highlight fell in this 30-stage excessive-rise estate tower following an unsolved killing there remaining December.

Four years of emails between the department and the cleaning corporation display that filthy conditions at Park Towers and different public housing residences were frequently left neglected by way of GJK. They display frustration from branch personnel overseeing GJK contracts frequently achieving boiling point.

“At some degree, I am going to must decide is GJK negligent, incompetent or absolutely uncaring. Perhaps all 3. Negligent in reality, as to the alternative time will inform,” reads a 2013 email from a property management employee.

“I am swiftly losing self-belief in GJK’s capability to reliably and professionally perform the works it’s been shriveled for,” reads another email from 2014.

A September 2014 e-mail information a host of grimy areas, muddle and “spit marks” on corridor partitions.

In early 2015 the branch issued 3 $500 fines to GJK for breaching its contractual responsibilities which included putting off difficult rubbish, purchasing trolleys and graffiti, and scrubbing common regions.

GJK’s contracts incorporate dozens of pages of specific directions for every cleaning and maintenance challenges required in common areas, including that removal of urine, excrement, blood, and syringes must occur day by day.

One note from 2013 states: “The brown natural matter at the wall of the general public lavatory has been gift [for] at least [six days]”.

Although the email exchanges imply cleansing improved at times, threats of financial consequences from the branch maintain through 2015. “Whilst the cleansing services at this block are common of appropriate fine, if your operator does now not begin cleaning the vertical tiling inside the not unusual areas there may be repercussions,” one email reads.

Despite the slew of court cases approximately GJK’s negligence, the business enterprise won tenders to easy public housing across Melbourne’s west, north, and south. Those contracts had been well worth nearly $82 million over years.

The most current contracts display the cleansing price range just for Park Towers – the biggest public housing tower in Victoria, with 310 apartments – is $14,000 a month.
Read a sample of the emails here

In a 2017 email the top of Park Towers Housing Tenant Management association John Lowndes complained about GJK’s cleaning and threatened to take the agency to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal to sever the contract.

Mr. Lowndes, who has lived in Park Towers for thirteen years, said GJK’s cleaners had by no means done the task well. He stated they’d a hard time because the towers have been in a dilapidated state, but stated it was now not proper they frequently failed to carry out their obligations.

He said he had seen everything from human and canine feces in stairwells to used condoms left for days in commonplace regions.

“We have quite a few households here now with young kids, and they just shouldn’t be positioned up with the grime,” he stated. “It’s genuinely outrageous they hold getting contracts”.

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