Ms Balhas said she first noticed mould spots in 2011, six months after she moved in. She said a contractor, who came to the house when she reported the problem to Aboriginal Housing Victoria, told her it was due to her weight and was condensation due to heavy breathing. Eighteen months later, she said the mould had started to grow on her baby son’s bassinette.

“[It had] dots like someone had gone to it with a marker. It was pretty shocking,” Ms Balhas told the ABC. She said repeated complaints led to a few repairs, but the flaking walls, mould patches, and water stains kept returning. “I would clean it away, I tried everything, but it would come back thicker,” she said.

Her now five-year-old son Tobias has asthma and bronchiolitis, and when his health deteriorated this year, she got legal advice. “Him breathing in the air is making his little lungs weaker,” Ms Balhas said. “It’s not fair on him.”

Last month, lawyers acting on Ms Balhas’s behalf took the matter to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal. A mould inspection ordered by the tribunal uncovered some inside walls had up to 90 per cent moisture levels — well exceeding the allowable limit of 15 per cent. The cause was identified as lack of waterproofing in the shower, a possible roof leak and a broken exhaust fan. “This property is seriously contaminated and not habitable,” the report stated. “No-one should enter this property [until] a clearance certificate is provided.”

Doctor’s letters requested urgent rehousing. Dr Jane Greacen said the mouldy conditions left Tobias in danger of developing a fungal pneumonia.

Mould growing in patches on Jemima Balhas's ceiling.

 Mould is a health hazard

Microbiologist Dr Cameron Jones said mould in buildings was a widespread problem and the serious health risks were not being recognised.”The first signs of water damage or mould need to be gotten on top of quickly. Mould will quickly grow on any building product that contains a carbon source or a food source,” Dr Jones said.

Dr Jones said dangerous situations arise when the mould was growing unseen in a wall or ceiling, becoming “a toxic hazard”. Mould can cause respiratory risks in people with asthma or allergies, and long-term health impacts can include chronic inflammatory syndromes in people with poor immune systems. The ABC showed Dr Jones photographs from inside Ms Balhas’s rental, along with the recent mould report.”I would be very concerned not just because of the spores that are in the indoor air but from the viable mould, the whole home would be a toxic hazard,” he said.


This story not only highlights the dangers of household mould but also the devastating effects of improper and unprofessional cleaning. The Mould Doctor operates in the Gawler and Adelaide region of South Australia and is a certified professional. The Mould Doctor deals with these issues on a daily basis, they understand your needs and only use approved and harmless cleaning products. Find out more about the Mould Doctor’s services, visit our Mould Removal page:

If you would like to read more about the health hazards of mould, read the full article here: