COTA Victoria and Seniors Rights Victoria (SRV) welcome the launch of Victoria’s Housing Statement – The Decade Ahead 2024-2034, which should serve to increase housing availability and affordability in the state. However, successful implementation to deliver on the true potential value of this investment means older Victorians must be put front and centre.
The Victorian Government today announced a suit of initiatives and programs to support increasing building of housing, including social and community housing, across Victoria. This represents a major shake-up to planning and housing reform; with Victoria growing, the package is aiming to build 800,000 additional homes over the next decade.
The announcement focuses on five key areas to address housing supply:
- Good decisions, made faster
- Cheaper housing, closer to where you work
- Protecting renters’ rights
- More social housing
- A long-term housing plan
Under these sit a range of initiatives, such as streamlining approval processes for builds of certain investment and social housing levels; removing the requirement for planning permits for secondary dwellings under 60 square metres; and greater renter protections, including a new agency to resolve disputes between tenants and landlords.
With older Victorians particularly impacted by the current pressures on housing in the state, COTA Victoria and SRV CEO Chris Potaris supports this investment in one of the most vital issues that impacts how we age in Victoria.
“Victoria’s Housing Statement offers a clear direction to increase housing supply, which has been a key component of our advocacy in recent years, including at the recent state election. The lack of housing is one of the reasons behind increasing rental costs in the state,” said Mr Potaris.
“With more older people renting, and facing financial pressures, this is a welcome step to support a key cohort. Housing is one of the biggest factors in how we age, with broader ramifications for older people and society when they face insecure housing.
“With Victoria getting older, as well as growing, we are particularly pleased to see that these initiatives can support older Victorians to age well in their own homes and in our communities.”
However, if Victoria’s ageing population is not involved or appropriately considered in these reforms, there is a risk of unintended consequences. For instance, while we support the overall initiative to make it easier to build secondary dwellings, implementation of this change must be cognisant of issues that impact older Victorians.
SRV, as the only state-wide community legal centre offering an integrated response to elder abuse, has had to support to older people that have faced abuse, and losing their own home, after building so-called ‘granny flats’ to enable their family to live together.
SRV is currently facing rising demand for its services, with increasing cost of living and housing costs an aggravating factor. Without appropriate protections and restrictions in place, such an initiative could make it easier for some unscrupulous people to take advantage of older loved ones in their lives. The only way to understand these nuances is through ongoing and deep engagement.
“The success of this housing statement is contingent on how it involves older Victorians,” Mr Potaris stressed. “There needs to effective engagement at all stages with older people and ageing sector to make sure these reforms deliver positive outcomes and real benefits for this growing and vital cohort. I know that we and others in the sector will support these processes, but we need to see proactive steps from the Victorian Government.
“We also urge consideration of how this statement dovetails with the Victorian Government’s broader responsibility, and strategy, for supporting Victorians to age well,” he continued. “While we can see initiatives that offer benefits, older Victorians need to be at the heart of, and highlighted as a key part of, this strategy. Victoria is getting older, and these reforms are just one, but key, strand of the major, holistic changes we need to adapt to that.”
COTA Victoria and SRV recently developed and presented a submission to a parliamentary inquiry into rental and housing affordability crisis in Victoria, highlighting the impact on older Victorians. While calling for investment to increasing housing supply and support, including support for planning and building reform, we emphasised the need to ensure that any changes support Victorians to age well.
With the Victorian population set to increase by 60% to over 2.3 million people – or, in other words, a quarter of the population – by 2046, it is essential that Victoria uses this opportunity to adapt to meet the needs of our ageing community in the very near future.
COTA Victoria and SRV look forward to proactively engaging with the Victorian Government and relevant Ministers to ensure these reforms deliver on their potential for older Victorians.
– ENDS –
Marketing and Communications Manager
Telephone: +61 3 9655 2159
Council on the Ageing (COTA) Victoria is the leading not-for-profit organisation representing the interests and rights of people aged over 50 in Victoria. For over 70 years, we have led government, corporate and community thinking about the positive aspects of ageing in the state.
Today, our focus is on promoting opportunities for and protecting the legal rights of people 50+. We value ageing and embrace its opportunities for personal growth, contribution, and self-expression. This belief drives benefits to the nation and its states alongside communities, families, and individuals.
Seniors Rights Victoria (SRV) is the key state-wide service dedicated to advancing the rights of older people and the early intervention into, or prevention of, elder abuse in our community.
SRV has a team of experienced advocates, lawyers, and social workers who provide free information, advice, referral, legal advice, legal casework, and support to older people who are either at risk of or are experiencing elder abuse. SRV supports and empowers older people through the provision of legal advice directly to the older person.