Chairperson’s Bulletin No. 9 – 2015

Office closure over holidays
Please note that the VPTA office will be closing at 12 mid-day on Thursday 24th December and will re-open at 9am on Monday 4th January 2016.

VPTA/DHHS mail out to all Public Housing tenants
Every Victorian Public Housing tenant household received a flyer from the VPTA enclosed in their recent Rent Statement from the Department. This approach, well supported by the Department, has ensured we are able to reach all tenants and inform them of our services. This is part of our strategy to enable us to truly represent all public housing tenants.
As a result of this mail-out, we have received many calls at the office and staff has been kept busy providing information and following up some calls by talking to local Housing offices. Some of the common problems being raised with the VPTA are around transfer requests, disputes between neighbours, parking issues on estates, requested inspections for maintenance work (not done) and dissatisfaction with (or lack of) DHHS response to tenant inquiries.
Additionally, many tenants have contacted the VPTA to tell us what a blessing public housing has been for them; secure and affordable accommodation that provides a stable home, enabling them to cope with various challenges that life has presented. Great to hear the ‘good news’ stories!

VPTA ‘Out and About’ Program
The VPTA spent a busy day in Mildura earlier this month, talking to local tenants and meeting with Housing staff. We also visited Sale in late November, meeting with tenants on one of the newer estates before visiting the local Housing office to chat to the Housing Manager.
This format of meeting informally with tenants, followed by a visit to the local office seems to be working and is providing the VPTA with insights into both local and state-wide issues. Some local issues can be resolved immediately, whilst broader issues are being followed up by the VPTA at a higher level and may result in future policy changes or improved practices.
We are developing our schedule of visits for 2016 and will be visiting many estates and neighbourhoods to meet with tenants. For information on when the VPTA will be in your local area, please contact the VPTA office on Freecall 1800 015 510.

The Big Picture
Whilst much of the VPTA’s day-to-day work is focused on providing information and support to tenants, it remains part of our mission to address the shortage of social housing and the lengthy and unacceptable Wait List for Public Housing.
We have been working ‘behind the scenes’ to highlight what can be done to address this shortage. The VPTA has made a Budget Submission to the Victorian State Government and continues to meet with various State politicians to raise awareness of the problem and practical strategies to provide more affordable housing options.
We have recently completed a hefty document, “A Blueprint for Affordable Housing in Victoria”, which will be released in the New Year. It outlines a range of options that would increase supply.
However, the real challenge is for Government to commit to growth of social housing properties by committing to annual targets over a period of years, so that supply matches population growth and the Wait List reduces. The VPTA will be calling on the State Government to develop a plan that sets targets for increasing the number of available social housing dwellings.

Congratulations to Michael Aboujundi and Anna Rogalina who were awarded the Frances Penington and Molly Hadfield awards respectively. Both these Public Housing tenants have served their respective communities over many years and have had a long involvement with the VPTA.

Season’s Greetings
The VPTA wishes you all a safe and happy summer; we hope you find time to relax, spend some cheerful time with friends, neighbours or family and experience ‘Peace and Good Will’.