At Shelter’s AGM on Monday 23rd November 2015 the Executive Committee for 2016 was elected comprising new and ongoing members.
- Chairperson - Rebecca Cuzzillo (Youth Coalition of the ACT)
- Treasurer - Angela Seymour (subject matter expert)
- Secretary - Katherine Higgins (CatholicCare Canberra and Goulburn)
- Ordinary Member - Julie Evans (Supported Tenancies Service, Woden Community Service)
- Ordinary Member - Wendy Middleton (Argyle Community Housing)
- Ordinary Member - Penny Leemhius (Older women's housing representative)
- Ordinary Member - Deb Pippen (Tenants' Union ACT)
- Ordinary Member - Naomi Gould (Canberra Community Law)
This committee represents a broad cross-section of the sector and brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the work of ACT Shelter.
ACT SHELTER STAFF
Vision – what we want to achieve in the long-term in a perfect world
ACT Shelter believes that housing is a human right. Our vision is that everyone’s home be recognised as the safe, secure, affordable, sustainable foundation to well-being.
Values – how we will work
Our core values are:
Purpose – why we exist
ACT Shelter exists as an advocacy body to represent the housing issues of people on no, and low to moderate incomes in the ACT.
ACT Shelter is a non-profit organisation that aims to eliminate housing-related poverty. Under our constitution we aim to:
- Promote and maintain the right of every person to access affordable, safe and secure long-term housing that they identify as appropriate to their needs.
- Promote and maintain the right of every person to housing of a quality which enhances people’s health, well-being, dignity and life opportunities.
- Promote the benefits of public and community housing, and other forms of housing assistance in the community and all spheres of government.
- Publish, collect, research and disseminate information on matters relating to the provision of housing, particularly for people on low to moderate incomes.
- Create opportunities to support, establish, resource and coordinate non-government organisations and agencies with similar interests and objectives.
- Promote opportunities for members of the community to access housing-provision free from discrimination as a result of factors including, but not limited to, age, gender, ethnicity, health status or disability.
- Promote and support consumer and community participation in decision making in relation to their housing and to promote access to avenues of appeal across all housing tenures.
ACT Shelter identifies and welcomes the following as those with a particular interest in and relevance to its activities:
- Members – individuals or organisations in the Canberra community who recognise the importance of housing issues and who support our aims
- Government (ministers, MLAs, senior officers and bureaucrats) – those responsible for setting and implementing housing and housing-related policy as mandated by the citizens of the ACT
- Tenants – private, public and community tenants – those who can provide us with experiences of the rental market
- ACT residents on no, or low to moderate incomes – those who are in need of assistance to obtain and sustain a stable home
- Home owners – those who are struggling to maintain mortgage payments
- Community and public housing providers – those who provide direct provision of housing services
- Specialist homeless services – those who provide emergency shelter and support for the homeless
- Community organisations that represent particular interest groups, eg youth, older people, and others who are concerned about housing needs of their constituent group
- Developers, real estate agents, builders, and those who represent them and other organisations who may have impact on housing supply and pricing
- Tribunals and legislative advisors – those who control and regulate the equitable provision of housing
- Media – those who can influence public opinion on housing matters
ACT Shelter identifies the following as areas of strategic importance during 2012.
A. Housing supply and affordability
B. Access to housing
C. Housing appropriateness
The organisation has a long history – 15 years – of advocating for the housing rights of people on low to moderate incomes in the ACT.
ACT Shelter was incorporated under the ACT Associations Incorporation Act in April 1996. Prior to this a small group of dedicated volunteers had been working for some 10 years in the social housing sector raising housing issues for low to moderate income earners with the Government. A Shelter representative was invited to sit on the ACT Government’s Housing Advisory Committee but without funding, there were limitations on how far we could effectively represent the housing needs of people on low to medium incomes.
ACTCOSS at this time were funded by the ACT Government to employ a housing support worker but most other States and Territories had funded independent Housing Peak bodies which were networked under the umbrella of the federally funded National Shelter. So in 1996 the ACT Government agreed to fund a newly incorporated ACT Shelter for $50,000 per annum. We have gratefully received funding support from the ACT Government since that time.
Over the last 15 years, ACT Shelter Incorporated has worked with community and government on several levels in advocating for safe, secure and affordable housing for low to middle-income ACT residents.
ACT Shelter has provided major input into the ACT Homelessness Strategy: Breaking the Cycle (2004); the Affordable Housing Action Plan (2007); the ACT Social Plan and the ACT Social Compact between the Community Sector and Government; the ACT Housing Advisory Committee; the ACT Homelessness Advisory Committee; and the Anti-Poverty Task Force. The lack of affordable housing in the ACT was (and is) a significant factor highlighted in all the ACT Government final plans and strategies from all of these government and community initiatives. It is also as a consequence of these partnerships that the ACT Government continues to maintain the highest percentage of public housing in the country in recognition of the high price and scarcity of suitable and sustainable private sector housing in the ACT.
A major piece of work for ACT Shelter in 2005/6 was to raise awareness of Housing as a Human Right. Our project, funded with the assistance of ACTCOSS and the Youth Coalition of the ACT, distributed cards and posters throughout the ACT raising awareness that housing is a basic right which should be afforded to all citizens.
Consultative mechanisms in which we have had an ongoing role are: the Joint Community Government Reference Group; the ACT Community Sector Task Force; and Joint Pathways. These committees are joint ACT Government/Peaks meetings that look at the whole-of-government relationships with the community sector. It was as a result of the community sector task force in the mid-2000s that the ACT Government committed to giving their community partners annual funding increases of a wage-based CPI which enables the agencies to ensure their staff are getting remuneration that keeps up with inflation.
Since 2000 ACT Shelter has also played an active role working with our community sector partners in highlighting specific issues with the general public such as Anti-Poverty Week and Tenancy Week.