Focus on renters

by | Mar 26, 2024 | 0 comments

At the moment, housing is dominating so many discussions in the media, in Parliament, and around water coolers and school gates across the country. The fact is that CSMC has long advocated for single mother families on housing-related issues, most notably access to suitable rental housing and renters’ rights, and the inaccessibility of home ownership.

With rental affordability and availability at crisis point, our work in this area is stepping up. Here’s a snapshot of the work we are doing for single mother families in rental accommodation and how you can contribute.

Firstly, a win!

The Victorian Government has announced a taskforce, backed by $4 million to “send a clear message to rental providers that rental offences will not be tolerated – cracking down on offences like false advertising, renting out properties that don’t meet minimum standards, and not lodging bonds.” This is great news, and we congratulate Minister Gabrielle Williams for taking this step. As Minister for Women she learned a lot about single mothers and became a solid supporter. Now she is in charge of the rental reform agenda as Minister for Consumer Affairs in the Victorian government. You can read more here.

Secondly, a research partnership

Tenants Victoria has won a grant from the Victorian Law Foundation to investigate why so few single parents access their legal advice service. They approached CSMC to partner them and to provide expertise on single mothers’ perspective.

We are excited to contribute and will also help to recruit single mothers who may be interested in being interviewed. We will be putting out a call soon for participants who are renting and want to have input. Keep an eye out and if you wish, you can let us know now at action@csmc.org.au that you are interested.

These sorts of research partnerships are valuable to the advocacy work we do. For example, participation in a cross-university study into student parents has given us additional leverage to advocate for lower HELP debts and payment for those undertaking student placement roles.

Our submissions to government on rental regulations and homelessness, combined with this research, will similarly position us a single mother experts and representatives on rental issues.

Thirdly, an update

We are currently lobbying State Ministers in housing and plan in May to extend that to Federal Ministers. In the past months our CEO has met with the Victorian Public Tenants Association, Homes for a 100 Women project, and the Commissioner for Residential Tenancies.

We plan to keep writing articles and have single mums interviewed by journalists. Many of you contributed to our survey last year on rental housing and we will use your thoughts and questions to create better understanding with real estate agents and landlords and to develop a campaign that shows single mothers make great tenants.

With your help, we will also create an online housing page where women can enter rental tips and stories of successfully challenging unfair rental practices. If you have tips and stories, you can start sending them in, or let us know how you would like to be involved: action@csmc.org.au

Our share house register group continues to grow across Australia with 2500 members. It’s not the answer for everyone, but can be both a stop gap and a way forward.

Making rental properties affordable and available for more single mothers means addressing multiple issues and working with diverse politicians, organisations and businesses. It’s also going to require a strong, unified campaign by CSMC and our members and supporters. If there’s one thing that we have learned in our 55 years, it’s that when they are needed, our staff and supporters step up. We really are stronger together.

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Callout for focus group participants Seeking young people aged 15 - 22 who are growing up or have lived in a single mother household Attendance at one focus group session around 2 hours long Participants with be paid $50 per hour for their time Must be available to...

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