Federal budget missed opportunity

In the largest spending Federal budget in decades it was disappointing to see little in it for housing or most of our tenants. The key measure for the sector was an increase from $2 billion to $3 billion in the NHFIC Government Guarantee for the Australian Affordable Housing Bond Aggregator. While this is a welcome initiative debt alone will not build anymore social houses – subsidised housing requires a subsidy.

However, it was pleasing to see $150 million for the Indigenous Home Ownership Program which is a shared equity model that will support the construction of new homes in regional areas – something the Victoria’s Aboriginal Housing and Homelessness Framework identified as a priority.

The Treasurer gave no indication about the ongoing rate of Jobseeker once the coronavirus subsidy is withdrawn. It is inconceivable to think that the government would expect people to return to living on $40 per day. More money in the hands of people on low incomes is not only good social policy but it is sound economic policy and would help reboot the economy.

Attention now turns to next month’s state budget and Tim Pallas said this morning that the ‘Victorian Government will hand down a budget that will kickstart the biggest economic recovery effort our state has ever seen.’ The Andrew’s Government is aware that Victoria has the lowest rate of social housing in the country and they understand the economic power of investing in social housing as demonstrated by the Rudd Stimulus Package in 2008. We are hopeful that this will translate into a sizeable commitment into housing.

– Lesley Dredge, CHIA Vic CEO

Community housing Aboriginal Cultural Safety Framework officially launched

At an online launch this afternoon, Victorian Housing Minister Richard Wynne and Aboriginal Affairs Minister Gabrielle Williams launched the Community Housing Aboriginal Cultural Framework.

The Community Housing Industry Association Victoria (CHIA Vic) developed the framework after extensive consultation with tenants and its member organisations. It sets out the steps community housing organisations can take to become culturally safe and will be backed by training and consultancy services to provide further assistance.

Organisations that commit to the framework will begin to integrate an understanding of the impact of intergenerational trauma has had on Aboriginal tenants, and employees, and work to create services that are appropriate and welcoming. One aim is to increase the number of Aboriginal people taking up housing in the community housing sector and have sustained successful tenancies.

CHIA Vic will provide assistance to organisations keen to commit to the framework with training and consultancy services.

You can view the framework, and details on the launch, here.

Or download the media release.

Funding announcement offers a boost to Aboriginal housing

Aboriginal Housing Victoria (AHV) has welcomed funding announcements from the Victorian Government to upgrade and build more social housing for Aboriginal Victorians.

The government is investing almost $500 million to public and community housing as part of the $2.7 billion Building Works package, which will kickstart Victoria’s economy and create thousands of jobs across the state.

That includes funding for AHV sites in Hampton Park and Dandenong, creating 12 homes, as well as $35 million for upgrades, maintenance and repairs of existing Aboriginal social housing.

“This funding will enable AHV and other Aboriginal controlled organisations in our state to renovate hundreds of properties and build a dozen or so new homes. We expect Aboriginal Victorians to share in the new jobs to be immediately created in the construction sector while also providing more Aboriginal families with a safe place to live,” said AHV Chief Executive Officer Darren Smith.

“Every Victorian deserves a home and no sector of the community is denied this human right more often than First Australians. The commitment the Government announced yesterday to renovate thousands of existing properties (including those providing shelter for our people) is urgently needed, will boost morale and give a welcome charge to a flagging economy.”

Images of the property by Schored Projects supplied by Lucy Greenham.

National Reconciliation Week

National Reconciliation Week begins today and its brutal to note that, in the housing space, Aboriginal Victorians continue to face extreme disadvantage.

Around one in five Aboriginal households in Victoria live in social housing compared to one in 50 in the general population.

CHIA Vic is currently working on a project to ensure the community housing sector is culturally safe for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. Stay tuned for details.

In the meantime, a great resource for gaining a glimpse into what life looks from an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspective can be found here, at Reconciliation Australia’s Share Our Pride website.

Victoria now has an Aboriginal Housing & Homeless Framework

Aboriginal Housing Victoria (AHV) has launched the Victorian Aboriginal Housing and Homelessness Framework to a large and enthusiastic crowd at Parliament House. The formalities opened with traditional dances performed by Aboriginal Wellness Foundation and were followed by speeches from Dr. Kerry Arabena, Chair of the Steering Committee, The Hon Richard Wynne MP and The Hon Gavin Jennings MLC.

The strategy, Mana-na worn-tyeen maar-takoort: Every Aboriginal Person Has a Home, is the first self-determined strategic housing policy developed by the Aboriginal community for their people.

CHIA Vic would like to congratulate Darren Smith and the staff at AHV for all their hard work in supporting the development of this framework. CHIA Vic is committed to the principles of self-determination and looks forward to working with AHV and the Victorian Government to implement this framework. In the coming months we will be releasing resources that support our mainstream providers in their work to deliver cultural safe services.

We welcome the initial commitment of $5.3 million made by government at the launch of the framework, and in particular the recognition of AHV’s award-winning More Than a Landlord program.

Download the framework.

Celebrating social housing champions

Victorian social housing heroes have been recognised for their outstanding community contribution at a special ceremony.

Minister for Housing Richard Wynne joined members of the social housing community for the Social Housing Volunteer Awards at the Victorian Parliament, where the coveted Frances Penington and Molly Hadfield Awards were announced.

Both awards recognise public and community housing tenants who go above and beyond to connect and support people in their neighbourhood.

The Frances Penington Award went to Judith Jackson. ‘Aunty Jacko’ is a much loved elder and volunteer in the Port Phillip community, having helped establish a weekly Wominjeka barbecue.

She is also a trusted adviser to groups such as Star Health, the City of Port Phillip for NAIDOC week events, the City of Kingston and Sisters of Mary in Carlton.

The Molly Hadfield Award went to Linda Newman, who volunteers as a member for Housing Choices Australia’s Victorian Resident Advisory Committee. She is a tireless advocate for older tenants and a regular presence at countless events.

The Frances Penington Award honours the late Frances Penington – a Commissioner of the Housing Commission and the first woman appointed to the board of a statutory authority in Victoria.

The Molly Hadfield Award is named after the late Mary (Molly) Hadfield – a dedicated advocate for public housing tenants.

Spending money on housing a must

Great Inside Story by Peter Mares on the National Housing Conference, that ends with this key comment:

‘Even if we don’t invest in social housing, though, we are going to spend a lot more public money on housing anyway. We’re just going to spend it in different, less effective ways: on more rent assistance, more welfare payments, more homelessness services, more visits to emergency departments, more Medicare claims, more police and ambulance call-outs, and more people going through the courts and being put in jail. And tax revenue will be lost as a result of lower employment and declining productivity.’

Read the full article here.

CHL creating new Aboriginal housing organisation

To coincide with National Reconciliation Week, Community Housing Ltd (CHL) has launched its Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) and announced it has commenced the process of registering an Aboriginal housing organisation, Aboriginal Community Housing Limited (ACHL) that will provide culturally-appropriate housing to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

Managing Director Steve Bevington says, ‘CHL’s RAP is a reflection on our long reconciliation journey which started in the very early years of our existence. Over the years we have forged deep relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander partners, organisations and communities on the very strong foundation of mutual trust and respect.

‘The CHL Reflect RAP will enable the organisation to further strengthen the existing relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, communities and organisations.

‘It will also support an organisational culture within CHL that acknowledges and fosters awareness and respect for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, their histories and their cultures, through both its work practices and organisational environments,’ Steve says.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples make up more than 14 per cent of CHL’s tenancies and  CHL has worked extensively with communities at a local level across Australia for over 15 years, partnering and collaborating with local organisations and community groups to provide housing services that are culturally appropriate.

‘Our commitment is and has always been to ensure access to and equity in meeting the housing needs of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples,’ Steve says.

‘Whilst there is a huge parity gap between wider Australia and our First Peoples, CHL celebrates the survival and resilience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures across the country’s many traditional lands and language groups. We also recognise their right to determine their own future and to live in accordance with their own values and customs.’

Aboriginal Community Housing Limited (ACHL) will become the first independent national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led and managed provider of long-term affordable housing, and property and tenancy management for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities.

CHL will support the development of ACHL in its formative years and provide staff resources, systems, expertise and advice to enable ACHL to grow into an independent national organisation in the long-term.

‘ACHL aims to establish approaches to assist its members to determine and achieve their own aspirations and provide a range of housing services including core activities such as the development of affordable rental and home ownership solutions,’ Steve says.

Reconciliation Week is an important event in Australia’s cultural calendar and CHL is proudly hosting events at offices around Australia, acknowledging these important announcements and contributing to the national movement towards recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

To download a copy of CHL’s RAP click here


Work to be done to close Aboriginal housing gap

Aboriginal Victorians are missing out on the human right to adequate housing and on the long term social and economic benefits of home ownership more than any other group in Victoria.A desire to understand why this is the case, and how to change it, provided the impetus for the very successful Victorian Aboriginal Housing & Homelessness Summit held last week.

As convenor, Aboriginal Housing Victoria (AHV) consulted with Aboriginal and mainstream services about the development of a housing and homelessness framework. The statistics painted a bleak picture with 18.4 per cent of Aboriginal Victorians receiving homeless services as compared to 1.8 per cent of all Victorians; only 43 per cent of Aboriginal Victorians are home owners compared to 68 per cent of the general population, and 1,438 new social housing is needed for Aboriginal people by 2021.

The impact of these statistics were intensified by the personal stories of racism and blatant discrimination suffered by so many of the delegates.

CHIA Vic looks forward to working with AHV and the Aboriginal co-ops to look at how we can support these small regional and rural organisations to operate successful housing programs with training in tenancy management and assistance to drive the costs down for tenants through energy efficiency measures.

Also, over the coming months we hope to undertake a project to improve Aboriginal people’s access to and outcomes in the community housing sector by embedding Aboriginal inclusion, accountability and monitoring in all aspects of community housing. The project will take a ‘rights based’ approach, which places Aboriginal Victorians and their communities firmly at the centre of community housing policies and practices.