Victoria’s ‘game changer’

9 December 2020 | Posted In: #137 Summer 2020,

Community leaders say the sector’s advocacy efforts were vital to securing the Andrews Government’s multi-billion-dollar social housing announcement. Luke Michael reports. 

The Victorian Government will deliver more than 12,000 new social and affordable homes over the next four years, as part of a record-breaking $5.3 billion investment that has been welcomed by the community sector. Premier Daniel Andrews said that the Government will build 9,300 social housing properties and 2,900 affordable housing properties to boost Victoria’s social housing supply by 10 percent and support around 10,000 jobs a year.

Victoria has long been criticised for underinvesting in social housing, with the state recording the lowest proportion of social housing of any state or territory in Australia. With social housing making up just 3.2 percent of the state’s total housing, around 100,000 Victorians have been left on the housing waiting list.

Community groups have applauded the announcement, which also includes plans to establish a new statutory authority that will develop and oversee a 10-year public and community housing growth plan. The Victorian Council of Social Service CEO Emma King said the long-term social and economic benefits of this package will be immeasurable. “This colossal investment will mean fewer people cold, hungry and homeless, and more people in work. It’s that simple,” King said. “A single investment of this scale has not been seen in many decades, if ever. It’s a game changer.”

National Shelter also praised the investment — which is believed to be the biggest investment in social housing the state has ever seen. CEO Adrian Pisarski called on the Federal Government to match this investment, not just in Victoria, but all over the country to rebuild Australia’s supply of social and affordable housing. “This is the most significant building announcement made by any state government in our history and we encourage other states to follow Victoria’s lead,” Pisarski said. “Every state and territory needs a program like this and the national cabinet should be looking at providing a necessary investment to drive this and other state initiatives further.”

Jenny Smith, CEO of the Council to Homeless Persons, agreed that the Federal Government should match this investment to extend and amplify the package’s impact. She said a lack of social housing has been driving people into homelessness and making it almost impossible for them to escape from it. “Without a secure affordable home, it is almost unachievable for people to engage in education or employment, much less to maintain their health and wellbeing,” Smith said.

Smith told Pro Bono News that the sector’s persistent advocacy efforts were fundamental to securing the multi-billion-dollar announcement from government. She said it was difficult to achieve policy change when governments have to consider a range of competing demands. “So it has been really important that the community sector has been coordinated in giving a very consistent message to governments in recent years: that all our efforts to support people will have limited impact … when people don’t have a safe and secure home,” she said.

“The advocacy that the community sector has done in recent years [has been vital], meeting with members of Parliament, putting out policy documents and also getting the public on board. It’s been a real collective effort from parliamentarians, the community sector and the community to get this done and it’s a wonderful step forward for Victoria.”

Courtesy Pro Bono News

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