FORUM 1: THE ROLE OF THE GATWICK
On Wednesday October 26th 2011, the St Kilda Rooming House Issues Group held a Community Forum on the role of the Gatwick Hotel in the local community. Local MP Martin Foley moderated the forum, Paul Madden Chair of SCH did the introductions and the conclusion and the speakers included:
Rose Banks and Yvette Kelly owners of the Gatwick Hotel; Patricia Saunders from the Fitzroy Street Traders Association; John Enticott from St Kilda Community Housing and Rachel Powning Mayor of the City of Port Phillip. Inspector David Blencowe from the St Kilda Police Station attended and took questions from the floor.
The forum was attended by almost 100 people. All were agreed that Fitzroy Street could sometimes be an unpleasant place to be but there was considerable disagreement as to whether this was the responsiblity of the Gatwick residents or whether it had more to do with the changing face of the street itself. The proposal for St Kilda Community Housing to take over the running of the Gatwick is still under consideration by the owners and talks will be continuing between the parties. John Enticott stressed that SCH’s capacity to manage the Gatwick was contingent upon receiving some financial assistance from the State Government.
FORUM 2: THE IMPACT OF LIVING ON NEWSTART
About 50 people attended this second forum. Paul Madden, from the St Kilda Rooming House Issues Group, chaired the session. The evening kicked off with John Enticott from St Kilda Community Housing talking about how, when he started work with SCH, those on Newstart were not putting their names forward for bedsits because the rent was higher than for single rooms in shared accommodation. Now the policy is to charge rent according to income levels. Dale Nelson from Social Security Rights Victoria spoke about how Newstart was traditionally a lower payment than a pension because Newstart was viewed as a temporary payment until an individual could find employment. Unfortunately now people were living on Newstart for much longer periods of time. Gerard Brody, from the Consumer Action Law Centre, gave a presentation on payday lending and how research showed that 78% of people seeking loans were on a Centrelink payment. Gerard pointed out that the loans weren’t for items such as fridges and washing machines but for food and utility bills. The last speaker was Philip Mendes from Monash University who challenged us all to rethink the social security system altogether. Sandy Joffe from the Port Phillip Community Group ended the evening by inviting members of the audience to take part in a campaign. Further details of that campaign will be posted on this website.
Copies of both Gerard and Philip’s presentations are available here:Gerard Brody Presentation
FORUM 3: THE FUTURE OF SOCIAL HOUSNIG IN VICTORIA
In June 2012, almost 60 poeple attended a forum on the future of social hosuing in Victoria which had been rpecipitated by the release of a discussion paper by the Victoria Government: Pathways to a Fair and Sustainable Housing System. The three speakers were, Director of Housing, Arthur Rogers, representing the Minister, Wendy Lovell. Former Housing Minister, now opposition spokesperson on Housing, Richard Wynne and new CEO of HomeGround, Heather Holst. Arthur took the audience through the main points of the discussion paper, highlighting that the Minister was keen to receive our answers to the many questions posed in the paper. Heather Holst reminded the audience precisely why public housing had been created in the first place back in the 1930s and why the private market would always fail some citizens. Richard Wynne suggested that the discussion paper represented a return to the Old Poor Laws – with a distinction being drawn between the deserving and the undeserving poor in terms of access to housing.There was a very lively discusison at the end with some audience members expressing concern that the State Government’s plan was to divest itself of public housing altogether.