Housing crisis hurting most vulnerable

Damian Midwinter is one of thousands of Victorians who is sitting idle on the Allan Labor Government’s priority transfer housing waitlist.

Damian lives with intellectual disability, has reduced vision in his left eye and can only see shadows in his right eye. He has been desperately trying for over 18 months to relocate from Foster to Wonthaggi in order to access crucial medical and disability support.

The Nationals Member for Gippsland South Danny O’Brien said he first wrote to the Minister for Housing to advocate on Damian’s behalf in January 2023.

“When Damian’s mother Monica, who is also his carer, first contacted me for help Damian had already spent six months on the priority transfer waitlist,” Mr O’Brien said.

“Damien’s vision is deteriorating further each day and after more than 18 months of waiting, Monica is understandably desperate to see Damian settled into a new home before he is completely blind.”

Figures from June 2023 show there are 9,373 applicants on the transfer housing waitlist with 5,965 of those having met the criteria for a priority transfer. This is in addition to 55,822 applicants on the social housing waitlist.

Mr O’Brien said Monica turned to him for help as she was feeling let down by the Allan Labor Government.

“Monica was led to believe that Damian would be allowed to transfer to a vacant unit in Wonthaggi that is typically reserved for over 55s, if she was able to provide supportive reports from her son’s NDIS support worker and occupational therapist.

“I am told that Monica spent over $2000 to obtain the reports she was told she needed, only to be later told that this was no longer an option.

“There is a huge shortage of social housing available right across our state and, if true, it beggars belief that a suitable unit is being allowed to sit empty while a blind man is left struggling to access the medical and disability supports that he needs.”

Mr O’Brien said the latest correspondence he had received from the Minister for Housing on this matter was in February 2023, despite subsequent emails and calls to the Minister’s office.

“It is evident that we are in the midst of a housing crisis right across Victoria, and while the Allan Labor Government may talk a big game with its much-touted Big Housing Build Program, the proof is in the pudding.

“The truth is that in my electorate of Gippsland South, there are fewer social houses now than there were when Labor first formed government in 2015.”

Mr O’Brien said that it was not just his own electorate, but all of Gippsland that was seeing social housing stock dwindle under Labor with data recently released by the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing* showing that social housing stock across the six local government areas that make up Gippsland decreased from 4,874 in 2015, to 4,834 as of 30 June 2023.

“It’s clear Jacinta Allan has lost control of the housing crisis and our most vulnerable Victorians are left paying the price.

“People like Damian Midwinter need us to stand up for them and hold the Allan Labor Government to account.”

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