Council to Homeless Persons is deeply saddened by the recent death of Allan Martin.
Allan was a writer, poet, advocate and dedicated North Melbourne football club supporter, who touched many hearts around him with his kindness and determination to improve conditions for others. He won the Henry Lawson award for his short story writing, and in 1984 his collection of poems and prose written while in prison was published by Abalone Press (‘Spitting Out sixpenny’). Allan joined Ozanam Community Centre, a service run by VincentCare for people who were with or without a home, as a regular volunteer and committed many years to the role. Whilst volunteering at Ozanam House Allan became involved as the Emergency Relief coordinator providing material aid for many single men who were without a home, exiting prison or living in rooming houses. Allan also volunteered as music coordinator for the entertainment stage for the Where the Heart Is festival, an annual festival for people without a home or experiencing disadvantage.
His creative and fiercely determined project of photographing the abysmal state of many boarding houses in and around Melbourne resulted in feature articles in The Age newspaper, television, photographic essays in the national publication of Parity, and presentations to government ministers across twenty years. Allan was an inaugural member of the Melbourne Metropolitan Rooming House Group, resulting in significant legislative changes regarding rooming house conditions for rooming house tenants across Victoria. Allan provided an insight into the living conditions of rooming house residents for the Coronial Inquiry into the Sydney Road deaths of rooming house residents. His knowledge of the inquiry provided a sounding board for changes to rooming house legislation which the rooming house standards were borne from.
In 2010 he was a finalist for the Human Rights Medal. His powerful public speaking and advocacy to end homelessness led to his employment as an Outreach Project Worker with the Tenants’ Union of Victoria, identifying systemic issues relating to rooming houses and identifying people in need of urgent assistance.
Allan joined our Peer Education Support Program team at the Council to Homeless Persons in 2008, with a strong commitment to social justice and human rights. He was later employed in a receptionist staffing position. Allan’s work in the homelessness sector and in rooming houses is highly regarded and will be remembered by all of us who have worked with him. We thank Allan for all of the incredible work he has done to end homelessness, always advocating for people with lived experience to be provided with training opportunities and for the messaging to sector from that lived experience to be continually heard.
We thank Allan for his incredible work to end homelessness. We have been truly lucky to have him as a colleague at CHP.
A memorial service to celebrate Allan’s life will be held at 2-4pm on Thursday 2 November at Ozanam Community Centre, 179 Flemington Rd, North Melbourne. RSVP by Tues 31 October by emailing [email protected]