Since we updated you last, The Victorian Public Tenants Association (VPTA) has been very busy – as always – helping public housing tenants across Victoria with their housing issues.
Below is a snapshot of what we’ve been up to and what issues have dominated the sector recently.
Last month the VPTA Board had a strategic planning day, conducted by an external facilitator.
Board members discussed how we as an organisation can improve our strategic plan going forward and also brainstormed ways to better our media presence, tenant engagement and advocacy methods.
Going forward, our Board wants us to log tenant issues and information much more strategically, so we can better advocate on behalf of public housing tenants.
It was a very productive day and helped the organisation plan for the busy months and years to come.
New staff member
The VPTA now has a new Manager of Policy and Communications – Martha Haylett.
Martha has experience working in State Government, as well as in the housing and not-for-profit sectors.
Her background combines policy development and advocacy, project management, strategic communications and stakeholder management.
We welcome her to the team and trust she will give voice to tenants with government policy makers, as well as in the media and broader community.
Issues raised with the Department
The VPTA is in regular contact with DHHS about how they can better support tenants.
Some issues we’re pursuing with the department right now include:
- Updating tenants more frequently on the gas heater issue and Public Housing Renewal Program
- Getting clarification on how public and private tenants will be mixed once the Public Housing Renewal Program is complete – to ensure there is a true ‘salt and pepper’ mix and public housing tenants are not segregated from private tenants
- Getting clarification on how larger families will be accommodated upon return to renewed estates with less bedrooms
- Getting more information on the Maintenance Call Centre’s satisfaction rates and how quickly tenants’ maintenance requests are attended to
Do you think we need to be pursuing anything else? Let us know via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Public housing waiting list balloons
A Victorian parliamentary inquiry recently released more details about Victoria’s public housing waiting list.
For the first time we now know the number of people waiting for a place to call home – instead of just the number of applications.
Currently, the list is made up of 57,877 adults and 24,622 children – a number that has increased by 1,500 in the first three months of 2018 alone.
These numbers are devastating.
The VPTA will continue to advocate for more public housing to be built in Victoria and you will be seeing more from us on this issue in the lead up to the November State Election.
Ongoing gas heater issue
By now, every public housing tenant will have been sent a letter about faulty gas heaters.
The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is currently in the process of replacing all Vulcan and Pyrox Heritage gas heaters in public housing, as they have been deemed unsafe due to their potential to produce deadly amounts of carbon monoxide.
Tenants will be provided with temporary heaters until their new gas heater is installed and heaters will now be serviced every 2 years.
The Department will apply a weekly rent reduction of $7 while tenants are using their temporary heaters.
We have received a large amount of calls from concerned tenants about this issue and are regularly talking to DHHS about ways they can improve the process.
For more information call the Housing hotline on 1800 148 426.
Public Housing Redevelopments
Last year we asked the Minister for Housing to sign a pledge to make sure tenants of the Public Housing Renewal Program have the right to return after construction is complete.
We were happy to hear recently that this is now legally binding – giving tenants an absolute guarantee that they will be able to return to their estate if they want to.
Roughly 30% of tenants living on these estates have now been relocated to other public housing properties of their choice, with many tenants ringing in to say how happy they were with the process.
For more updates on the Renewal Program, follow us on Facebook at
State and Federal Budgets
The Victorian and Federal Budgets came and went recently, with no good news for public housing.
Both Budgets lacked any serious commitment to tackling Victoria’s housing crisis.
The Federal Budget, in particular, did not include any long-term plan to build more affordable housing.
To truly help Australians, state and federal governments need to invest significantly more in public housing so that nobody misses out on a place to call home.
The VPTA will continue to advocate strongly for Victorians who need secure public housing.
Keep up to date
To find out more about our organisation, click on the links below:
If you are a tenant who needs advice about any housing issues, feel free to call the office on 1800 015 510.