/About Us
About Us 2017-08-25T00:17:20+00:00

At South Port Community Housing Group we give vulnerable people a place to call home. We are a unique and vibrant organisation, proudly community-based, and community-focused.

The issues of prime concern to us are:

  • the lack of housing options for many people in the lowest income groups, particularly marginalised single adults and youth, and
  • the risk of growing levels of homelessness and social exclusion.

The outcomes we strive for are:

  • Secure, long term tenancies for the most disadvantaged
  • Connecting marginalised people to local services, facilities and opportunities.

How we achieve those outcomes is through provision of quality housing; sensitive and compassionate tenancy management and support; providing our tenants with opportunities to ‘get involved’; researching and distributing information about local services and opportunities; and developing more housing as every opportunity presents.

We currently manage 285 tenancies for adults, and in 2016 we supported 84 young people who were homeless or facing homelessness.

We have created 71 new units of accommodation locally since 2011.

We see housing as a human right- this value is reflected in everything we do.

Our Mission

We create and manage affordable rental housing options in the City of Port Phillip for single adults and young people who have faced homelessness and social exclusion.

We encourage our tenants to participate in the local community and share in the benefits of inner-city living.

We work with people who are most in need of an affordable, supportive place to live.

“A sense of belonging is incredibly important to an individual’s mental health as it allows people to feel valued, needed and accepted.”

Hagerty, et al, Sense of Belonging: A Vital Mental Health Concept. 1992

What we do

Housing development and management

We manage 285 tenancies, all located in the City of Port Phillip, most targeted to single people on low income who are experiencing a period of crisis in obtaining or maintaining secure housing.

Reflecting our commitment to helping people make a long term home, our Housing Team includes people with skills in social work and community development as well as tenancy and property administration.

Much of our housing is located in buildings with interesting histories, which have been private hotels and rooming houses in days gone by.

We lease property from the State Government.

We own and develop housing.

We help people to access the support they might need to live independently and do all we can to assist people to sustain their housing.

Our tenants are invited to get involved on committees and working groups, and in local activities and events, including meals, arts and social programs we run ourselves.

We help local people to stay in the local area.

We believe everyone has a right to safe, secure housing and we assist people most in need.

Specialist Youth Homelessness Support:

We have three professionally trained and understanding Youth Support Workers providing case managed support to young people aged 15-25 who are either homeless or at risk of homelessness. This support is tailored to an individual’s needs and can include support with housing, living skills, parenting, education, health issues, employment and relationships.

Accreditations and Partners:

  • We work closely with the State Government and have the following government accreditations:
  • Registered Housing Provider with the Victorian Government Housing Registrar
  • Specialist Homelessness Services Provider (youth homelessness) with Department Health and Human Services Victoria
  • Registered charity with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Commission and Deductable Gift Recipient
  • Registered Not-for-profit Incorporated Association in Victoria
  • Long term leasing arrangements with the State Government for State-owned community housing properties

To ensure our work is well linked with current knowledge, we are members of:

We partner with relevant key agencies to ensure our referrals are from people most in need and to ensure our tenants have access to good specialist health support services:

Our History

South Port Community Housing Group began in 1982 on the initiative of three people: Heather McKee, Social Worker at South Melbourne Council, Beris Campbell, Social worker at Port Melbourne Council, and Jon Watson, Minister at the Uniting Church South Melbourne.

Formation of the South Port Rooming House Committee (as the organisation was then known) happened in response to three factors:

  • The numbers of single person households being displaced by rapid gentrification and the sale and conversion of local rooming houses, pubs, bungalows and other forms of affordable singles housing;
  • The existence of two State Government owned rooming houses on the Emerald Hill Estate that had been acquired by Government several years earlier;
  • Election of the Cain State Government which was committed to social programs and public housing and created a Rooming House Program within the bureaucracy in the early 1980s.

Opportunities grew quickly in the 1980s and early 90s, with the organisation taking on head-leases of 13 State-owned rooming houses with tenancy numbers totaling around 170. In response to growing numbers of homeless young people locally, a Youth Housing Program began in 1985 and received State funding in 1986.

In 2002 South Port won a State Government tender for a new property that resulted in the 41 new one-bedroom flats at 306 Dorcas Street.

Since 2009, in partnership with the State Office of Housing, and out of concern for the high turnover and perceived lack of safety in rooming houses, South Port has successfully achieved eight rooming house conversions. The organisation made this a priority and devoted significant time and resources to making the conversions happen over a six-year period. 106 rooms in those eight rooming houses were reduced to 94 bed-sits to achieve this result. There has been a highly significant change to stability and safety in the accommodation since the conversions.

With the support of the State Government, in 2011 the organisation moved into an exciting new phase, taking on ownership of two properties in 2012 and 2014.

In 2011 a successful submission was made to the Federal Nation Building Program, a grant of $11.5 million was received and, on land leased for 80 years from the Melbourne Roman Catholic Diocese, 40 new one-bedroom flats, owned by South Port, were constructed at 330 Bank Street, South Melbourne.

In 2014 South Port was approached by the G.W.Vowell Foundation wanting to sell their 31 bed-sit flats for the over 55 age group in Emerald Street, South Melbourne. After a long campaign, South Port obtained a State grant, borrowed funds for the first time, and purchased the Emerald Street property.

Our Partners

City of Port Phillip

The City of Phillip in its earlier guise as City of South Melbourne and City of Port Melbourne, helped create our organisation in 1982. It has supported us in many ways since. Our work has benefited from Community Grants towards our meals programs, events tickets and community gardening and, more recently, a grant to assist our joint project with Launch Housing to pilot a Homeshare program in the City.

Father Bob Foundation

Father Bob Maguire, the energetic over 80 year old Parish Priest at St Peter and Pauls South Melbourne for 39 years, is, very happily, still in our neighbourhood. The Father Bob Foundation office is in Albert Park and the meals/food depot in South Melbourne. Sharing a passion for social justice, all things community and for the people of the South Port area, we have worked closely with the Foundation since its establishment. We jointly run the annual Community Street Party in South Melbourne.

Justice Connect and Sparke Hellmore Lawyers

Organised through Justice Connect, Melbourne, law firm Sparke Hellmore generously donated the time of their Pro Bono and Community Team to help us write a new Constitution to comply with the Associations Incorporation Reform Act 2012.

Streetsmart Australia

Streetsmart Australia develops relationships with many of Melbourne’s amazing restaurants and cafes to raise funds and awareness to bring about change for people experiencing homelessness or at risk. They have generously provided us with small grants over many years now to assist our community programs.

Launch Housing

We have worked closely with Launch (previously HomeGround and Hanover) for many years- combining to offer transitional housing to young people facing homelessness and to take referrals to our long term housing for adults.

This year we have a new and exciting partnership with Launch Housing: to conduct a pilot Homeshare program in the City of Port Phillip. Homeshare matches people with spare rooms with people who, in part-exchange for accommodation, can provide some help and companionship.

Sacred Heart Mission St Kilda

Sacred Heart is also a long term partner: Sacred Heart clients accesss our housing, and Sacred Heart helps our tenants get support when they need it. This year we are part of a small working group convened by Sacred Heart Mission to develop understanding of, and response to, rough sleeping in the City of Port Phillip.

Main Referring Agencies

Other agencies which refer people to our housing and provide ongoing support include:

Vincentcare (Ozanam House)
MIND Australia
Salvation Army Crisis Centre, St Kilda

Organisational Values

Our values guide the way we work, our decision-making & our relationships within the organisation, with tenants, partners & other stakeholders.

Fair, transparent, non-discriminatory access and service provision

We ensure fair, non-discriminatory service provision and access to services.

We are committed to housing the homeless and not rejecting people regarded as “hard to house” or “high risk” tenants.

Warm, respectful, empowering and supportive tenancy management

We work with people in a way that is warm and respectful and encourages them to take responsibility for and control over their own lives.

We provide housing services of a supportive nature, with emphasis on maintaining tenancies of people with complex needs.

Accountable, ethical and high quality

We are accountable to and governed by members of the community including tenants/clients of the organisation.

We maintain high professional standards, accountability, and ethical behaviour in governance, management and service delivery.

Courage to speak up

We have courage to challenge things we see as wrong and stand up for things we strongly believe in.

Respect individual’s privacy and sensitive use of information

We do not collect personal information unless it is directly necessary for our work with tenants and clients and funding organisations.

Engagement with community

We develop “community” that is based on good relationships among staff, committee, tenants, and neighbours.

We encourage the local community and locally based businesses to share in the responsibility for tackling homelessness.

Zero Tolerance of Violence and Abuse

Our staff

We do not tolerate violence, or other forms of abuse, and will be vigilant in our efforts to prevent and stamp out any violence, abuse or exploitation of vulnerable individuals of all ages.


Our CEO, Janet Goodwin, has been with the organisation since 1994. Janet has a background in local government- at the City of St Kilda in the 1980s, involved in organising the beginnings of the St Kilda Festival, St Kilda Film Festival, Elwood Neighbourhood House and numerous community programs. She undertook research for a number of local Councils including a Community Information Study, Community Health Plans, and a Housing Study. With a strong personal commitment to social justice and community building, Janet made the shift from local government to community housing in 1994. Janet has a Bachelor of Arts in Urban Geography and Sociology from Monash University, a Graduate Diploma in Recreation Services Management, and a Graduate Certificate in Advanced Management.

Staff team

Manager Housing Operations, Matt Kent

Policy and Corporate Services Manager, Rob Leslie

Finance Co-ordinator, Manuel Solano

Youth Program Team Leader, Rebecca Blight

Housing Worker, Elana Kopke

Housing Worker Properties/Maintenance, Ron Hazelwood

Housing Worker, Nicky Paterson

Housing Worker, Lauren Wilson

Reception/Admin, Lenore Gerloff

Youth Housing Support Worker, Barbara Leon

Youth Housing Support Worker, Claire Lilburne

Our board

We are governed by an independent volunteer Board whose commitment to the organisation is vital to our ongoing success. All current members either live or work in the local area and a possess skills and knowledge vital to guiding our work.

The Board members 2016-17 are:

President, Mary Anne Noone

Deputy President, Bill Joyce

Treasurer, Norman Huon

Secretary, Beris Campbell AO

Heather McKee

Rachelle Paquin

Tom Barrett

Richard Mac

Matt Boland

David Springle

Andrew Scarlett

We do more than provide accommodation, we are committed to creating a place to call home.