OCAV joins national call for more social housing funding in the Federal Budget

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OCAV joins national call for more social housing funding in the Federal Budget

November 3, 2020

The Old Colonists’ Association of Victoria has joined over 300 organisations from across Australia calling on the Prime Minister to commit to significant new investment to reduce homelessness and create construction jobs.

The campaign, led by Everybody’s Home, is vital, according to CEO Phillip Wohlers, who says that before COVID-19, 116,000 Australians were homeless every night.

“The impact of the global pandemic will exacerbate this, placing stress on the one in three Australians who rent. Here at OCAV, we know many older Victorians are under increasing rental and retirement income pressure and are at risk of homelessness,” Mr Wohlers said.

“Investment in social housing will create the long-term pipeline of projects and construction- jobs needed in local communities as they rebuild after this pandemic.”

The campaign maintains that building 30,000 social housing properties over four years will create more than 18,000 construction related jobs a year for our building sector.

According to Mr Wohlers, Federal governments have intervened during earlier times of crisis. For example, the post 2nd World War public housing boom was the result of bipartisan support for a national building program that helped lead Australia’s economic recovery and keep its citizens housed.

“Federal social housing investment after Cyclone Tracy and the Global Financial Crisis was also instrumental in helping our communities and local economies rebuild,” Mr Wohlers said.

He said that housing is not only a fundamental need but it is also a human right, and our national response must rise above boundaries or party politics.

OCAV is calling on the Victorian government to commit to building at least 6,000 new public and community houses each year for the next 10 years to keep pace with population growth, to house Victorians on the wait list and those living in extreme housing stress

OCAV also wants the Victorian Government to assist Not for Profit retirement villages with matching funds to plan and develop social housing specifically for older Victorians.

“This way Victoria will have new housing which is both age and dementia friendly rather than investing in dementia- specific communities which we believe contributes to endemic ageism,” Mr Wohlers said.

The other recommendation is for changes to be made to Victorian housing standards which are not suitable for many people with disability, older people and other diverse community needs.

“Only five per cent of Australian homes are fully accessible. Simple changes to the building code, such a requiring adequate door widths and step-less shower recesses, would make homes more liveable for people with different needs,” Mr Wohlers said.

Volunteering is important to Deb, enabling her to contribute in the aged care sector. “I love it when the residents get downright cheeky. I love it when we get a bit too loud with laughing."

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