John Pilger has said “It is not enough for journalists to see themselves as mere messengers without understanding the hidden agendas of the message and the myths that surround it.” The newspapers and media in Australia are colluding in this by refusing to expose the ongoing nationwide privatisation of public housing and its impact- which is escalating homelessness.
The official definition of ‘social housing’ is a) Public housing; and b) Housing owned, controlled or managed by a participating registered agency. The distinctions are deliberately blurred. There are too many fundamental differences between the two housing models to call them both ‘social housing’.
During discussion stages of the Bill, there were plenty of mother-lode statements from the ALP and the Greens. Only Wendy Lovell, former Victorian Housing Minister for the Liberal Coalition, asked socially responsible questions which addressed the Human Rights of our most vulnerable citizens.
Interesting that politicians when they are in opposition, can sometimes do a great job in keeping those in power accountable-whatever their motivation.
Here’s some short extracts from the debate;
Ms LOVELL (Liberal) — What percentage of new tenants will housing associations be required to take from segment 1 of the housing waiting list?
( Segment 1 of the Public Housing waiting list is comprised of extremely desperate people - those with high complex needs and/or are homeless )
Ms MIKAKOS (ALP Minister for Families and Children) — I can advise the member that there are matters that are still in discussion with the sector, including the matter that the member has referred to.
Ms LOVELL- Minister, I would have thought that that was something that would have been established before bringing this legislation to the house.
Later Minister Lovell raises the question again “Will there be houses owned by housing associations where they are not required to take people who would currently qualify for public housing as tenants? There are currently people who are housed in housing association properties who would not qualify to be on even segment 4 of the waiting list. Are they going to be allowed to continue to take those tenants into housing association properties?”
( Segment 4 is for people, not necessarily with disabilities, but whose low income qualifies them as eligible for Public Housing.)
Great question. It is a scandal that the titles of desperately needed public housing are being given away to Community Housing Organisations to house people not even eligible to be on any segment of the public housing waiting list- let alone the most needy and desperate!! Is it any wonder the Homeless Persons’ Union is up in arms and occupying properties!?
Wendy Lovell- “Minister, will tenants have the choice to nominate only to be housed in public housing, or will they have to take pot luck as to whether they get a public housing property or a housing association property when they register on the segmented waiting list?"
Ms MIKAKOS (Minister for Families and Children) — I am advised that there will be a choice for tenants.
Great questions Wendy Lovell. It’s a pity that Liberal, Labor, the Greens and The Sex Party allowed this Bill to be passed without insisting that these issues regarding Community Housing Organisations -aka social housing- be resolved.
We are talking here about Equity of Access to Housing - an extremely important Human Right.
My friend, colleague and fellow public tenant, Jeremy Dixon, has put together a great press release which will be sent out asap. At the same time it will go up on this Blog.