Ross Smith: A life spent in service to the community

2 February 2017 | Posted In: #131 Summer 2017, Civil Society Issues, People, Public Housing, Vale, | Author: Garry Mallard | Author: Ross Smith

The public housing sector mourns the loss of one of its most colourful characters, long-time Waterloo resident, advocate and activist.

Ross passed away unexpectedly while on Waterloo Green in the heart of the community he loved so much. He had been running one of the many regular errands his community depended upon and appears to have passed away relatively peacefully.

He was relentless in his pursuit of fair treatment for social housing tenants and worked tirelessly to give meaning to often cynical Tenant Participation processes. Ross’ capacity to analyse and risk assess policy on the run and in every detail was formidable. His powers of recall and his intimate knowledge of social housing history were matched by few.

Sometimes abrasive and often misjudged, Ross’ commitment to his community was completely selfless and his many acts of compassion in support of the elderly and disadvantaged of his community have been too long overlooked by those who saw only the fierce and uncompromising advocate. Few have given more time and effort to the affordable housing sector and with such passion as Ross and his death is an incalculable loss to grass roots activism.

Ross will be missed by community members, friends, colleagues and adversaries alike, who will draw some solace from the certain knowledge that any issues the residents of the afterlife may be experiencing right now, will be well and truly sorted by the time we arrive.

Plenus annis abiit, plenus honoribus
(He is gone from us, full of years and full of honours)

Garry Mallard is a long time housing activist and friend of Ross Smith


On 18 November 2016 public tenants, bureaucrats, politicians, service providers, housing colleagues and many of his friends and acquaintances packed Alexandria Town Hall to commemorate Ross Smith’s contribution to his community and to the housing sector. REDWatch, of which Ross was treasurer, has a memorial page at where you can see some of the photos, video and a song used at Ross’ funeral. You can also read some of Ross in his own words as well as some of the tributes paid to him. Ross was cremated on 21 December 2016. The failure to locate a will or next of kin saw his funeral delayed.

In passing, Ross’ final lesson to us all is to make sure people know who your next of kin is and / or you have a will so officialdom knows what you want done with your money and possessions. Otherwise, like Ross, the state trustee will handle your estate and any money left over will go to the government rather than something / someone of your choosing.

Raising issues to the end – Vale Ross Smith