National Older Persons Housing Network Organising Committee Update

The National Older Persons Housing Network Organising Committee has held two meetings with 10-15 people participating in each meeting with four states represented. As well as the Organising Committee there are about 45 members in total at this stage.

The aims of the Network are to bring together older people from across Australia to become a housing lobby group for older people and by older people at a national level.

So far the group has developed its terms of reference that includes its official role as a HAAG working group that it is protected and also bound by HAAG’s constitution etc. and all members have agreed to be bound by HAAG’s decision-making processes.

It is currently working on a log of claims that are covered under the following headings:

  • Australia needs more public and community housing to provide for an ageing society
  • There is a need for a service system that provides information, support and assistance for older people at risk of homelessness
  • Older people need a wide variety of social housing choices to suit their needs
  • We challenge the stigma of homelessness for older people
  • Homelessness is caused by the impact of government policy on affordable housing supply and access to social housing
  • There are many varied circumstances that can lead to an older person being at risk of homelessness
  • We challenge the stigma of older people being a burden on society and promote the values of ageing such as independence, good health, support for families, volunteerism and contributors to society

Once the NOPHN has finalised its log of claims it will begin promoting its aims and objectives, expanding its membership and start campaigning for housing reform. This will include directly lobbying federal governments and political parties.

A funding application has also been submitted to The Mercy Foundation to employ a 12 month part-time worker to support and expand the group.

NOPHN Committee Member Diane Fraser with HAAG worker Maria Cozzi

NOPHN Group Terms of reference

Principles of the group

The problem

Many of us are very concerned about the present future facing older people at risk of homelessness in Australia. There are many thousands of older people who do not have housing security when they reach retirement age and this group is increasing rapidly. There are too many older people paying high rents, without housing security and in a home that is not suitable for ageing. The facts are that governments have not taken action to address this problem. Home ownership has been in decline for the past two decades and public housing expenditure has reduced by 50% since 1990. This has forced many older people into reliance on the private rental market which is primarily intended as a form of investment rather than a long term housing option. We also know that as people age their need for secure, affordable and adaptable housing grows in importance.
Groundswell of action

The Ageing on the Edge Project is just one development that is trying to take action on this problem. As a groundswell of concern rises, many people are raising their voices and campaigning in a range of ways. The National Older Persons Housing Network is the development of an idea to bring together many older people who are activists, or wish to be more active, in this area. This aims to ensure that the direct voice of the people directly affected by this terrible problem is able to be heard. We also hope that this direct voice also makes politicians take more notice and take practical steps to address the problem.

Some draft principles of the group

The group agrees on some core demands:

  • Australia needs more public and community housing to provide for an ageing society
  • There is a need for a service system that provides information, support and assistance for older people at risk of homelessness
  • Older people need a wide variety of social housing choices to suit their needs
  • We challenge the stigma of homelessness for older people
  • Homelessness is caused by the impact of government policy on affordable housing supply and access to social housing
  • There are many varied circumstances that can lead to an older person being at risk of homelessness
  • We challenge the stigma of older people being a burden on society and promote the values of ageing such as independence, good health, support for families, volunteerism and contributions to society

The group aims to:

  • Be an organisation directly representing the needs of older people, by older people, particularly those who have lived experience of being at risk of homelessness
  • Be a support network for older people concerned about their housing
  • Share information about housing options, services and assistance available
  • Become up to date on housing policies at the federal and relevant state levels
  • Take action in a range of ways that directly represents the voice of older people
  •  Work towards becoming a self sufficient national organisation

How will the group operate?

  • In its early phase will be auspiced by Housing for the Aged Action Group’s Ageing on the Edge Project with long term plans to become independently operated and funded.
  • The group will operate as a HAAG Working Group and therefore comply with the Aims, Objectives of HAAG and work within its operational guidelines
  • The group will report directly to the Ageing on the Edge Project and the HAAG Management Committee for approval of work and actions undertaken
  • Regular meetings of a national executive group with wide national membership
  • Develop an extensive national membership of older people
  • Provide opportunities for engagement between members
  • Develop campaigns of action on the group’s core demands
  • Connect via email and social media where appropriate

This is a basic framework for the operations of the national older persons housing network. It has been compiled as a starting point and all aspects are open for discussion, including the potential for a much more interesting name for the group!

If you have any questions or would like more information please contact Jeff Fiedler at jeff.fiedler@oldertenants.org.au

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