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Friday, 1 April 2016


PUBLIC TENANTS have certainly TRIED to find out the truth regarding plans to privatise public housing.

Here is a list of responses Friends of Public Housing Victoria have compiled while talking to our fellow public tenants over the course of months and recent years.

These replies have, by no means, come solely from the Office of Housing.
These answers have also come from politicians and other organisations.

Public tenants have asked

‘Is public housing being privatised?’

‘What is ‘community housing’ and are they taking over public housing?’

Responses include

 ‘We don’t know what you are talking about’

 ‘It’s all just a silly rumour. Take no notice’

‘We don’t know anything about Community Housing’

“There is absolutely no truth in this whatsoever!’

 ‘It’s a lot of rubbish’

‘Yes public housing is being privatised, but only 2-3% of it, so we can get public housing back on track’  ( !  )

‘As soon as we find out, you’ll be the first to know’

‘There’s no point discussing it until after it happens’

‘Well yes, but don’t worry, these changes won’t affect your public housing estate’

‘Yes, but there is no cause for alarm because these organisations are Not-for-Profits’

In fact Not-for-Profits is a misnomer. ‘Not-for-Profits' are not necessarily small struggling organisations. They can certainly be profit-driven, growing, merging, and swallowing up the smaller players- in fact behaving like any other corporation.

Charities can become huge, powerful entities - and businesses can apply for charitable status in order to receive generous tax exemptions.

And finally, tenants have been told, ‘Nothing has been decided yet’.

IN FACT, in an infamous COAG meeting in 2009 –under the Rudd Labor government - a decision was made to transfer 12,000 publicly owned properties ( public housing ) to ‘community housing’ businesses. No new housing will be created by these transfers – only a change of landlords, rules and criteria. These changes in criteria and regulations when public housing is given away ( such as the introduction of limited contracts ) disadvantages even further our most vulnerable citizens - who often miss out on being housed in favour of more well-heeled tenants. 

And of course there will be even less public housing available to house these people in need …


In February of this year Friends of Public Housing Victoria organised a political meeting. Public tenants could discuss the differences between Public Housing, Social Housing and Community Housing and any other matters with a Human Rights and tenancy lawyer.

To advertise this, a dedicated group from Friends of Public Housing door-knocked on housing estates and explained to the tenants that Martin Foley, the ALP Victorian State Minister for Housing, has stated that he is considering handing over the management of Public Housing to Community Housing Organisations - with a view to handing over the titles at a later date.

We told the tenants to come along to this meeting and ask questions. They have a right to be informed and also to get involved in a campaign in opposition to these proposed changes to public housing. This is our democratic right. 

The following day, a public tenant contacted us. He had quite sensibly phoned his Housing Officer for verification and was told,

‘Don’t listen to a word they say. None of it is true.’

See what we are up against?

The meeting was very well attended.

The public tenants were keen to learn more from an expert in the field. They were relieved and empowered to be given accurate information in an atmosphere of openness, honesty and transparency. And they had a lot of anecdotes to share. 

An update - May 2016
A public tenant was recently told by his housing officer that 'they're probably not going to 
go ahead with it now'- meaning the stock transfers. So we've gone from 'It's all just a rumour' to
this latest response... In fact the whole thing has been in the pipeline for years. Without the tenants knowing about it- or the knowledge or the mandate of the general public.


  1. Well, if you remember the classic Get Smart shows Control spent a lot of time in the Cone of Silence.....without it KAOS would have overwhelmed them. Now, we are not KAOS of course but it remains true that for the powerful to keep their Control they need their Cone of we need to get the news out. To, erm, increase our Sphere of Influence.

  2. When I rang dept of housing to find out about succession of tenancy, the woman asked me how old I am. I told her I am in my fifties. She replied, as she was laughing out loud, ah don't worry, you'll only be homeless for 12 months.
    Many times I have caught these so called client service officer's in breech of their very own code of ethics and conduct. What to do - apart from filling in a client feedback form? Nothing, nothing one can do. Some of them seem to be completely devoid of any ability to show empathy or respect. Most of them are simply not fit to work in such a field that requires these qualities.

  3. The code of silence - deafening indeed.