We are committed to developing housing and a sense of community


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.


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


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.


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.


  • 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


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.


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

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 staff



South Melbourne Office:

Manager Corporate Services, Steve Timmerman

Manager Housing Operations, Elana Kopke

Manager H2H Program, Richard Cook

Finance Manager, Sabeeya (Saby) Anaz

Finance Officer, Ashley Kotorac

Office Manager, Simone Tracey

Project Consultant, Rob Leslie

Program Lead – Youth Housing Support Program, Claire Lilburne

Youth Housing Support Worker, Lauren Wilson

Youth Housing Support Worker, Anna Cagnoni

Housing Worker Properties/Maintenance, Ron Hazelwood

Community Housing Worker, Daniel Daly

Community Housing Worker, Dale Kent

Community Housing Worker, Azlenda Mackinnon

Community Housing Worker, Kylie Moore

South Yarra Office:

Community Housing Worker, Omar Palacios

Community Housing Worker, Carolina Franco Upegui


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 2020-2021 are:

President, Mary Anne Noone

Mary Anne is a Professor in the Law School at La Trobe University. She has been active in a number of community organisations over 30 years, and is currently a Board member of Carers Victoria. She was a board director with Victoria Legal Aid from 2000 to 2012. Mary Anne has had an active interest in social justice; one of her first committee memberships was with the Tenants Union of Victoria in the early 1980s. She is also a long term resident of South Melbourne. Mary Anne has been on South Port’s board since 2009.

Deputy President, 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 Paquin

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 Barrett

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.

Matt Boland

Matt Boland has had a long career in the State public service in a range of policy areas including urban and regional planning. He was also Director Corporate Affairs at RMIT University and for a number of years was Chief of Staff for Victorian Ministers for Education, Planning, Arts and Women’s Affairs. He is currently Director of a company, Page Street Services Pty Ltd. He is a resident of the City of Port Phillip and has been on South Port’s board since 2015.

Sheryl Powell

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 tenants and people experiencing homelessness.

Secretary, Andrew Scarlett

Andrew Scarlett works for the City of Port Phillip as Senior Urban Economist. He grew up in the City of Port Phillip. For several years before his Port Phillip role, he 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.

Richard Mac

Richard’s professional background is in hotel and bar management. He worked in catering including at Holiday Inn and Flemington Racecourse. As a long term resident of South Port (since 1997) Richard has lived in rooming houses, bed-sit flats and now a one-bedroom flat. Richard first joined the board in 2009 and has a strong understanding of the social housing system and of the needs and issues faced by tenants.

Alex Ghantous 

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.

Treasurer, Andrew Sattler

Andrew Sattler is an accountant who worked for many years for Ford Motor Company as Treasurer and Financial Controller and more recently for First Urban, and the Australian Council for Private Education and Training. Andrew’s qualifications include ACA (CAANZ), following a Bachelor of Business Studies at Massey University. Andrew has lived in South Melbourne for 13 years and has also worked with Father Bob Maguire and Father Julian at St’s Peter and Paul in South Melbourne.

Maria Tarrant

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.



Recently Retired

Norman Huon

Norman completed both a Bachelor of Commerce and MBA at Melbourne Uni, is a qualified accountant and held a Real Estate Agents License for more than 30 years. He has worked in the USA as a business consultant with McKinsey and Co. and has been CEO, State Manager and National Marketing Manager of three different Australian companies and CEO of three different industry associations including the Real Estate Institute of Victoria. Norman has also volunteered with Indigenous Community Volunteers for 15 years. He was on South Port’s board from 2010 to 2017.

Beris Campbell OAM

Beris Campbell OAM, BA Dip Soc Studs (Melb). Beris is social worker who was awarded an OAM in 2011 for services to older people particularly through the Homeshare Program, and in 2003 an Australian Centenary Medal for service to community services and aged care. For over 20 years Beris managed community services for Port Melbourne Council and, with the advent of Council amalgamations in 1994-5, achieved the amalgamation of the three former Councils’ Community Services Departments for the City of Port Phillip. Beris co-founded South Port Community Housing Group in the early 1980s and has served on its board until 2017 including several terms as Chairperson. She was also a long term board member of the local nursing home, CaSPA Care Ltd, and  is currently very involved with Homeshare Australia and New Zealand.

Heather McKee

Heather McKee, along with Beris Campbell, is a co-founder of South Port Community Housing Group. A qualified social worker, she was working as the senior social worker at South Melbourne Council when she formed a committee that led to the formation of South Port Community Housing Group. Heather has had a 30-year career in local government community services covering the development and co-ordination of both council and community managed services, in social planning, and senior management. She held senior management roles at Footscray Council, Maribyrnong Council and the City of Port Phillip. She has also served on several not-for-profit boards delivering community health and welfare services and a local school council. Heather is a long term resident of Middle Park and was on South Port’s board from foundation as South Port Rooming House Service in 1983 until 2017.


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