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 see housing as a human right- this value is reflected in everything we do.
We create and manage affordable rental housing options in the Inner Southern Metropolitan area for single adults and young people who have faced homelessness and social exclusion.
We work with people who are most in need of an affordable, supportive place to live.
We encourage our renters to participate in the local community and share in the benefits of inner-city living.
We speak up and advocate for the creation of more affordable housing options for people facing homelessness.
“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 over 350 tenancies, most targeted to single people on very 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 renters 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.
ACCREDITATION 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 Families, Fairness and Housing 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:
- Council to Homeless Persons (CHP)
- Community Housing Industry Association – Victoria (CHIA Vic)
- Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS)
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:
- Launch Housing
- Sacred Heart Mission St Kilda
- Wintringham (Specialist Aged Care)
- MIND Australia (Community Mental Health)
- Vincentcare – Ozanam House
- Star Health
- Father Bob’s Foundation
South Port Community Housing Group began in 1983 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 Victorian Government, 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 Victorian 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.
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 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.
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 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.
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 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:
Our values guide the way we work, our decision-making & our relationships within the organisation, with renters, partners & other stakeholders.
We provide opportunities for a wide range of people who have experienced homelessness and social exclusion. This includes people who have previously found it hard to achieve stable housing.
We provide people with fair and equal access to our services.
We are accountable to our local community.
Our members include people who use our services and live in our housing.
We maintain high standards of accountability, transparency and ethics in everything we do.
We work with people in a warm and respectful way.
We encourage them to take responsibility for their own lives.
We provide housing in a supportive way.
We are focused on helping people with a range of complex needs to maintain their housing.
We work to develop a sense of community based on personal relationships. This includes relationships between staff, board, renters, and neighbours.
We encourage the local community to share responsibility for
solving the issue of homelessness.
We seek to challenge the things we see as wrong and stand up for the things we believe in.
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.
Chair, Mary Anne Noone
Mary Anne is an Emerita Professor, School of Law, La Trobe University. Throughout her working life, she focussed on improving access to justice and social justice. Mary Anne has been active in a number of community organisations and boards including West Heidelberg Community Legal Service, Victoria Legal Aid and Carers Victoria. She is currently a Board member of Social Security Rights Victoria. Mary Anne is a long term resident of South Melbourne and has been on South Port’s board since 2009.
Deputy Chair, Bill Joyce
Bill trained in social work and public policy. His professional background is with the State Government as a senior public servant in the areas of Children’s Homes in the 1970s, Regional Manager with Community Services Victoria in the 1980s and 90s, and Manager and Assistant Director roles in Housing and Support at DHS Head Office up to 2004. Since retiring Bill has done part time work with Kids Under Cover and The Lighthouse Foundation. Bill is a long term resident of the City of Port Phillip and has been on South Port’s board since 2005.
Rachelle has lived with South Port since 1997 when she lived in a large, mixed rooming house in South Melbourne and then the women’s rooming house in Port Melbourne. She has always taken on a strong supportive role with other residents and has been an active participant in various organised groups such as the Women’s Group and Arts Group. Rachelle joined the board in 2006.
Tom has worked as a magistrate for the last 15 years. He holds a Bachelor of Jurisprudence and LLB from Monash University and a Diploma of Criminology from Melbourne. He worked as a lawyer for 43 years, including being a partner at Maurice Blackburn and Co for 20 years. He has been involved locally on the committee of the South Melbourne Districts Football Club and, in another volunteer role, was the on the ALP State Foreign Affairs Committee for three years. He has been on South Port’s board since 2009.
Sheryl has been living with South Port since 2004, living in rooming house, then bed sit unit and finally in one of the new one bedroom apartments.
Sheryl worked is a Women’s refuge, where she drove children to school and aided in safety planning for women’s safety against violent partners. Other work Sheryl has completed includes: taxi driver, telephonist operator, dispatch coordinator and truck driver. She was a on the Lionel Hall Community School Committee as a student representative .
Sheryl joined the committee, so that she can be more heavily involved with the local community and influence decisions made for the organisation to achieve outcomes for residents and people experiencing homelessness.
Secretary, Andrew Scarlett
Andrew Scarlett works for the Victorian Department of Transport and Planning as a Manager of National Employment and Innovation Clusters. He grew up in the City of Port Phillip. For several years prior to working for the City of Port Phillip in urban city planning, Andrew worked as an Independent Economic Analyst including for APEC Australian Study Centre, the Australia Institute, and Economists at Large. Andrew also has a strong background in energy and environment issues having been National Marketing Manager for Energy Matters and positions with the Energy and Water Ombudsman and the Environment Protection Authority. He has an Arts Degree in Philosophy and an MBA from Melbourne Business School. Andrew has been on South Port’s board since 2015.
Alex is a Port Melbourne Resident for over 20 years, and has 20 years of professional project management experience working for leading asset management and construction consultancies.
Alex came to know the work of SPCHG as project manager of the design and construction of 330 Bank Street. Alex is able to contribute in the areas of asset and risk management, from his knowledge of feasibility planning, asset strategy, procurement, delivery and management of property development.
Joining the SPCHG Board in 2022, Maria is an Associate with Reliability Network, undertaking consultancy work in education and training, energy and organisational review. She brings 30 years’ experience in both the public and private sectors including senior-level experience in business development, policy development and project management. Maria is committed to improving the outcomes for people who are increasingly not able to access safe and affordable housing in the area.
Rob is a leading architect and founding co-Director of MGS Architecture. Rob has lived in the City of Port Phillip since the early 1980’s and undertaken a range of affordable housing projects within the municipality. He is currently a Professorial Fellow Architecture and Urban Design at the University of Melbourne and sits on the Lord Mayors Charitable Foundation chairing their Affordable Housing and Homelessness Impact Areas. Previously Rob has been on the Board of Housing Choices Australia, the Fishermans Bend Ministerial Advisory Committee and Member of the Independent Advisory Committee to Homes Victoria.
Rob is a local resident in the City of Port Phillip. In 2023, he joined the board as a sitting member of the SPCHG property committee.
Rob has also been active in a number of community and industry organisations including the Property Industry Foundation, Father Bobs, FareShare and the Urban Land Institute.
Rob is experienced in property development, consulting and valuation. He holds qualifications in environments, property and finance up to a Masters level and he is a qualified valuer.
Rochna joined the SPCHG Board in 2023 and brings over 20 years of senior leadership experience working in for purpose organisations and commercial enterprises. She has led teams in a broad range of strategic, financial, and operational effectiveness programs to address organisation sustainability, risk, operational efficiencies, governance, and compliance.
Currently working with Council on the Ageing Victoria (COTA), Rochna has responsibilities for corporate services including commercial finance, HR and compliance across its various governance and statutory requirements. Rochna is a Fellow Chartered Accountant and Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Rochna was elected Treasurer of the organisation, via unanimous vote, at our February Board meeting.
Being a migrant woman from a culturally diverse background, Rochna is a strong advocate and believes there are endless possibilities of making positive social impact with continued engagement and offering opportunities in communities that are vulnerable and disadvantaged.