Rally to demand action on homelessness

August 5, 2022 BY

Geelong Housing Action Group members at the Barwon and South West Homelessness Network event last month. Photo: SUPPLIED

THE Geelong Housing Action Group (GHAG) is urging the community to join its rally and march in central Geelong this Saturday, August 6 to demand an end to housing insecurity.

Held as part of National Homelessness Week (August 1-7), the event will call on the City of Greater Geelong and the state government to defend and extend public housing and create a “real plan” for those on the waitlist.

GHAG co-convenor Heather Iveson said she formed the group with just herself and co-convenor Angela Carr in May 2021 but GHAG had been making its mark since then.

“We’ve done a few actions but we have been a bit hampered by COVID.”

The group’s activities so far include setting up a tent with a “This is what affordable housing looks like” sign in the Little Malop Street mall last year, rallies outside the office of Corio federal member Richard Marles, and participating in last month’s Barwon and South West Homelessness Network public event in Geelong for National Homelessness Week.

“We’re limited in some ways in what we can do to help people practically, but we believe it’s important to raise awareness around the local issues and experiences of the local people,” Ms Iveson said.

She said Saturday’s event aimed to bring the community’s attention to “what homelessness looks like now”.

“We know the media have been covering it (homelessness) a bit more – I think it was on The Project last night – but we need to drive people more into action.

“We want to break down those stereotypes, those traditional views around what people think about homelessness and realise this is not only literally close to home but also this is something that could happen to anybody; we’re all quite close to being in that situation.

“Only 31 per cent of people own their home outright in the whole of Australia – there’s a lot of people in mortgage stress, there’s a lot of people in rental stress, and there’s a lot of people who aren’t fortunate to have a mortgage or a rental.

“It’s great that the (City of Greater Geelong) council have a plan, but it’s a 20-year plan and it’s not really changing things right now, and this crisis was unfolding way before COVID came along.”

According to GHAG, there are 4,000 applications for public housing in the Barwon region and 42,000 across Victoria, and the state government’s Big Build of 12,000 properties over four years was not good enough.

“We need to see that waitlist managed and those people housed. Some of those people have been on the waitlist for over 10 years,” Ms Iveson said.

“What we want to see is a housing-first model… it basically says everyone has a right to a home, no matter what issue, circumstance or problem they’ve got.”

Guest speakers at the rally in the Little Malop Street mall on Saturday, August 6 will include City of Greater Geelong councillor Sarah Mansfield, Lisa Carberry, and GHAG co-convenor Angela Carr.

Speeches will begin at 12.30pm.