On Wednesday 9 November 2022, following our AGM, CHIA Vic held a joint election forum with Council to Homeless Persons (CHP) where we were thrilled to have the Minister for Housing the Hon. Danny Pearson, Shadow Minister for Housing Mr Richard Riordan, and leader of the Victorian Greens and Housing Spokesperson Dr. Samantha Ratnam, attend to present their parties’ visions for housing and homelessness policy after the Big Housing Build. With a crowd of around 80 from across the housing and homelessness sectors, we heard directly from these leading politicians about their plans to increase social housing stock and help to end homelessness in Victoria.
Minister for Housing Danny Pearson spoke about the current government’s record on housing, highlighting that the Big Housing Build is the biggest investment by any state government in Australia’s history. He acknowledged that government needs the knowledge, experience and expertise of organisations in the community housing sector to get the best possible housing outcomes, emphasising that governments shouldn’t think they know best and impose their decisions upon everyone without consultation. He concluded his opening by saying that government needs to be bold and innovative, and use the investment and partnerships that have been created with the Big Housing Build to continue doing more.
Mr Richard Riordan, the Shadow Minister for Housing, said he’s never known it so hard for Victorians to find a home, and that there isn’t a part of Victoria that isn’t touched by homelessness or housing affordability issues. He spoke of wanting to see the private sector and philanthropists given more freedom by government to increase residential development. Mr Riordan acknowledged that community opposition to new developments is a real factor, so that government must work closely with local communities and councils to get sensible housing outcomes where they are needed, and spoke of government needing to support the community housing sector to continue doing the work it does.
Dr Samantha Ratnam, Leader and Housing Spokesperson for the Victorian Greens, opened by saying the work of the housing and homelessness sectors is some of the most important done in our society, and stressed that more housing stock beyond the Big Housing Build is needed. She pointed out that the stock of social housing in Victoria has actually gone backwards over recent times, at the same time as the waiting list has continued to increase, then restated the Greens’ policy of building 200,000 new public and affordable homes over 20 years. Dr Ratnam ended by acknowledging the important work of the community housing sector, saying that it’s time to end pitting community and public housing against each other.
The panel were then asked a number of questions on behalf of the housing and homelessness sectors, with the discussion facilitated by Jenny Smith, Council to Homeless Persons CEO. They were asked about extending the From Homelessness to a Home program, how they view the role of the community housing sector when it comes to delivering growth for Aboriginal community-controlled housing and housing for other marginalised groups, committing to creating a youth homelessness strategy, and how to use the 2026 Commonwealth Games to create a lasting legacy of positive housing outcomes.
The panellists all spoke passionately and openly on these important topics, with all noting at various points that the housing affordability and supply issues facing Victoria can’t be solved by government alone, and that strong cooperation with the community housing sector is needed.
We’d like to thank everybody who attended the event, as well as CHP for partnering with us in bringing it to you, and of course to the panellists for taking the time to come and present their visions for the future of housing and homelessness policy in Victoria.
View recording of the panel below.