A strong delegation from Settlement Services International (SSI) was among 1,900 people who gathered at Sydney Town Hall on March 14 to urge for real change to housing and energy policies ahead of the NSW and Federal elections.
The goal of the Town Hall Assembly was to secure new commitments to the asks of the Sydney Alliance, NSW Vinnies
and Everybody’s Home.
For months beforehand, civil society organisations organised and advocated with political parties on housing and energy issues at state and federal levels. They negotiated with decision-makers prior to the assembly, and briefed all politicians on the questions and process.
More than 200 community organisations — a cross-section of Sydney’s ethnic and religious communities, including Christian, Jewish, Sikh and Muslim communities, Pacific Island, South Asian, Vietnamese and Filipino communities, and labour organisations, representing two million Australians — asked all parties in NSW to commit to a suite of energy and housing costs.
- At least 5000 new social housing homes a year in NSW to meet the housing needs of families on low and very low incomes in our communities
- More security for the state’s two million renters by removing “no grounds” evictions in NSW
- A real funded 10 year plan to end homelessness in NSW
- Increased targets for affordable housing in new developments
- A review of Minimum Standards of Rental Houses and Energy Efficiency Standards
- $10 million for the first every pilot solar garden in Western Sydney so that renters and people living in units can access renewable energy
Marcela Hart spoke on behalf of Settlement Services International.
“Each year, we support 27.000 people,” she said. “Today, we are calling for urgent action to make housing and energy accessible and affordable for all people to live with dignity!”
Politicians and party leaders attending, and who were asked on stage for their public commitments, included:
- Doug Cameron, Shadow Housing and Homelessness Spokesperson
- Mehreen Faruqui, Greens Spokesperson on Housing
- Don Harwin, NSW Minister for Energy and Utilities
- Adam Searle, NSW Shadow Minister for Energy and Climate Change
- Jenny Leong, NSW Greens Housing spokesperson
- Alex Greenwich (Independent)
- Paul Green NSW MLC (Christian Democratic Party)
Both the Liberal and Labor Parties agreed to review minimum standards of rentals to include energy efficiency standards, and to an audit of social housing stock — a massive win for tenants across NSW.
More specifically, the NSW Labor Opposition committed to implementing minimum energy performance standards by 2025.
NSW Labor Opposition also made commitments to:
- $200M to social housing dwellings in addition to existing programs
- An additional $40M to homelessness services, 100 additional child protection caseworkers to prevent homelessness, and an additional 200 beds for women and children escaping domestic violence
- Building a Community Energy Hub in Western Sydney, which will provide targeted and comprehensive assistance to our communities in language to address their energy needs
- A comprehensive review of government assistance schemes and regulation to mandate that energy companies must give vulnerable customers the best deals – a huge new commitment!
The NSW Greens also announced a plan for 300,000 new social housing homes, funded by a new state-based banks levy.
If implemented, those commitments will have meaningful impact for communities struggling with housing and energy.
In addition, all decisions-makers on stage reiterated existing commitments to solutions that aligned with the Assembly asks. While some existing programs fall short, the decision-makers committed to working with Sydney Alliance to further its asks.
To read more about the existing commitments that parties affirmed at the Assembly, click here.
Sign up on the Sydney Alliance website to express interest in joining a delegation to politicians following the election or take part in community organising training.
Join the Everybody’s Home Campaign to get involved in the national campaign for secure and affordable housing.