CHP eNews 2017
12 January 2017
Impact of Centrelink debt recovery system on SHS clients
CHP is currently monitoring the activity of the Centrelink debt recovery system as it relates to clients of the homelessness sector. There is some concern that clients that are transient may not receive notices and that deductions from Centrelink payments may result in rental arrears. Please advise CHP if incidents of this nature arise. Here’s a handy resource from Legal Aid for those who have received a letter from Centrelink, have had payments reduced or been cut off from Centrelink. This Crikey article also provides advice on how to dispute a Centrelink debt. If clients receiving notices to vacate for arrears because of actions by Centrelink, we encourage you to send them to Homeless Law (1800 606 313) for legal advice and representation.
New social housing to be built on rail land by Launch Housing
Launch Housing and the Victorian Government have announced that 57 new affordable one bedroom homes will be built on vacant land in Melbourne’s inner west. A $4 million donation from philanthropic donors will fund the building costs, supported by access to nine parcels of vacant land belonging to VicTrack. The lease of the land will be set at a period of five years, with a 12 month notice to vacate. The properties will be fully transportable. Read the media release here.
The lack of affordable one-bedroom has reached critical levels. Currently, just 3-in-1000 one-bedroom private rentals are affordable to a single person on Newstart, and the demand for one-bedroom public housing dwellings vastly outstrips supply. In its State Budget submission, CHP has called for 10,000 one-bedroom properties for single people on low incomes to tackle the root cause of homelessness – a lack of suitable, affordable, permanent housing.
Shifting the conversation from ‘cleaning up the streets’ to ‘housing the homeless’
The City of Melbourne this week commenced an operation to remove homeless encampments from the CBD. The operation aims to engage with rough sleepers and identify housing needs, as well as balance the needs of other members of the public to use public spaces safely. The language we use around homelessness is important. Phrases such as ‘cleaning up the streets’ and ‘ridding the streets of the homeless’ are heavily loaded and stigmatise an already marginalised group of people. We need to shift the conversation from ‘cleaning up the streets’, to ‘housing the homeless’. These are people we are talking about, after all, not rubbish that can be swept under a rug. Read our blog post about the importance of language, plus this article in The Guardian that touches on public perceptions of rough sleepers.
Your feedback sought on how to make #FairerSaferHousing
The Victorian Government is currently undertaking a comprehensive review of the Residential Tenancies Act. This process has been underway for many months, and is nearer completion. On 7 January, an options paper was released and is available here.
CHP has been heavily involved in the process to date, and will continue to represent the needs of those experiencing or at risk of homelessness in the next stages of the review.
Our initial analysis shows that there are some very positive measures included in the options paper around:
- Protections for those who have experienced family violence
- Minimums standards for housing quality (including heating, structural integrity, and mould)
- Removal of some rooming house tenancy breach provisions, to ensure tenants can actually control circumstances that may lead to eviction
Areas where advocacy is required involve:
- Tenants’ rights to keep pets
- The ability of landlords to include rules in leases beyond the scope of the act
We encourage any interested individuals and organisations to provide responses to the options paper, due by Friday 10 February.
Department of Health and Human Services December Update
The December 2016 update from DHHS is now available here. Also, here is the most recent DHHS organisational chart, which may be of use for your service to navigate the Department.
Edition #4 Family Violence Reform Newsletter
Department of Premier Cabinet have released the next edition of the Family Violence Reform Newsletter. It provides an update on the whole-of-government progress in responding to the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Family Violence.
Child Safety and Information sharing
The Royal Commission into Family Violence found that a key shortfall in the current design of children’s services was that services are not empowered to share information that could affect the safety and wellbeing of their clients.
The Victorian Government has released a consultation paper on how it can change the law to better support information sharing between children’s and community services (including homelessness services).
CHP is currently considering whether to provide a response to the consultation paper (available here). If you would like to contribute to or inform that response, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Productivity Commission Reform of Human Services Issues Paper
Another ongoing review, this time at the Federal level is the Productivity Commission’s Inquiry into Reform of Human Services. CHP has provided responses at previous stages of the inquiry (available here and here).
With ‘Family and Community Services’ identified as suitable for reform through previous stages in the inquiry, CHP will provide further advice to the Productivity Commission to ensure the best outcomes for those experiencing homelessness, and specialist homelessness services.
Submissions on the issues paper are due on Friday 10 February. More information is available here.
Proposed amendments to the Family Law Act 1975
The Commonwealth has released a public consultation paper in relation to proposed amendments to the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) that would respond to family violence.
In essence, the changes will make court processes faster and cheaper (by reducing instances where there is a state/commonwealth jurisdictional split – and rejecting vexatious claims) and court orders more enforceable.
Responses are due by Friday 10 February. More information is available here.
Looming cuts to state-wide family violence legal service
Women’s Legal Service Victoria (WLSV) has learned that it will have a $200,000 of Federal funding cut. provides more than 3,400 women across Victoria with free specialised family violence and family law legal services every year. The not for profit organisation runs duty lawyer services for women at the family violence and family law courts, skypes legal assistance to women in refuges and family violence services across Victoria and provides a state-wide legal advice line. Read the WLSV’s media release here.
Open Canvas – a social enterprise empowering homeless artists
Open Canvas is a new Melbourne-based social enterprise which helps artists who have experienced homelessness, a disability and other adversities to exhibit and sell their art. The Open Canvas website, www.opencanvas.com.au, has original art for sale and art-related merchandise such as phone covers, tea towels, puzzles, posters and greeting cards. Open Canvas is holding its inaugural exhibition, Between the Lines, from 7 -18 February 2017 at fortyfivedownstairs gallery, 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne. Guests are welcome to attend the opening function from 5pm-7pm on 7 February. Please RSVP to email@example.com. Open Canvas welcomes enquiries from artists and their support networks, including case workers and art therapists.
What’s on? CHP’s top picks for events and training:
Visit CHP’s what’s on page for more events and information.
Calls for contributions
You are invited to contribute an article to the March edition of Parity “I shall be released: Post-release and homelessness”. Contributions must be submitted by 3 March 2017. Download the contributions flier for more details or contact Parity editor Noel.
VAADA conference: Complexity, collaboration, consumers and care
The VAADA conference will provide practitioners and other stakeholders in the AOD sector with the opportunity to take stock, showcase best practice and reflect on strategies which highlight the depth, maturity and competence of the AOD sector. VAADA is now making a call for abstracts. If you are interested please follow the link here for information and the online abstract form.
Date: 16-17 February 2017
Understanding Homelessness Training
Presented by members of the Council to Homeless Persons’ Peer Education Support
Program (PESP), all of who have a lived experience of homelessness. This training is designed for volunteers, new staff of homelessness services and organisations from outside the homelessness sector (e.g. local council, volunteers, social enterprises). It provides a comprehensive overview of key homelessness issues from the perspective of individuals who have lived it. Download the flier.
Date: 7 February 2017
Time: 10am – 12 noon
Venue: CHP, 2 Stanley St, Collingwood
To register please contact Cassandra Bawden, firstname.lastname@example.org or (03) 8415 6210.
A Three-Phased Approach – Working Therapeutically with Complex Trauma Clients
Workshops the three-phases of working clinically with complex trauma clients, and fosters insights, tools and strategies for safe therapeutic alliances, informed by best practice principles.
More information online.
Date: Mon & Tue, 27 & 28 February 2017, Melbourne – from $554
How to better support tenants experiencing housing crisis due to family violence
The Tenants Union of Victoria are offering free training on better supporting tenants experiencing a housing crisis as a result of family violence.
Date: Thursday 9 March 2017
Time: 9.30am to 12.30pm
Venue: Sunshine (details to be advised)
Using the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (RTA) in conjunction with the Family Violence Protection Act 2008 (FVPA), the training will examine how to provide support and protection for tenants that may, due to family violence issues. See the flyer for further details.
In the news – in case you missed it!