MEDIA RELEASE – 18/01/2013

Since its inception, RISE has been dedicated to supporting refugees and asylum seekers settle in Australia. This has included our commitment to working with various housing services and advocacy groups to address the lack of sustainable and affordable housing for asylum seekers and refugees in this country.

We were appalled to hear the suggested plans for the redevelopment of public housing in the Fitzroy and North Richmond areas. The residents of most housing estates in this area consist of people from refugee/asylum seeker backgrounds as well as low income earners, both old and young. The plans put forward involve the privatisation of 50% of public housing in these areas. This announcement is great cause for alarm as the demand for affordable housing increases, while available properties decline. Potential outcomes of such a move will be increased homelessness in our community as well as the breakdown of community cohesion as individuals and families in need are left to compete with one another for very little remaining assistance.

A similar scheme has gone ahead in the Kensington area where it failed to live up to the reality it suggested to public housing tenants. Although some residents were offered places in the new development, 50% of tenants were forced to move into already overwhelmed housing estates, due to the reduced number of homes offered to the public sector.

We must not forget implementing such scheme not only affects community members and their wellbeing but also it will also overload crisis accommodation services where there are overwhelming numbers of people currently on waiting lists. Rather than the suggested scheme which has been tried and has failed elsewhere, RISE believes a complete review of the public housing sector is needed. Those in need should be prioritised with homes designed and built for families and pensioners, rather than those seen in Kensington favouring individual studios and one/two bedroom apartments that have limited capacity.

The current plan by the Victorian state government has targeted some of the poorest members of our community in order to benefit middle class Australians. The current residents of public housing properties in Fitzroy and North Richmond are members of an established community. They have roots, friends, family members, jobs, schools etc. in these neighbourhoods. On top of shaky housing options, our community in these regions is also dealing with under-servicing by government agencies as well as the scant opportunities available to them in a society that can be incredibly hostile to the newly arrived and poor. Rather than displacing our community in the pursuit of profit, RISE calls on the Victorian state government to scrap its current privatisation plan and instead, increase resources for public housing.

Media contact:
Mohamed Nur (RISE Support Service worker)
0418 810 036 or [email protected]

Take action and push the State government to scrap its privatisation of public housing. Contact your local MP via phone/fax/email and voice your concerns!

Wendy Lovell,
Minister for Housing
Phone 03 9096 0301
Email [email protected]

Richard Wynne
Shadow Minister for Housing
Phone 03 9415 8901
Email [email protected]

Lily D’Ambrosio
Shadow Minister for the Suburbs
Phone 9465 9033
Email [email protected]

Ms Jenny Mikakos
Shadow Minister for Seniors and Ageing
Phone 03 9462 3966
Email [email protected]

Adam Bandt
Federal Member for Melbourne
Phone 03 9642 0922
Email: [email protected]

Colleen Hartland MLC
Phone 03 9689 6373
Email [email protected]